For the last couple of weeks, all everybody in the art world has been able to talk about are Non-Fungible Tokens, one-of-a-kind digital items that are allowing emerging forms of conceptual art and intangible fragments to be owned in entirely new ways. A $69,346,250 sale of artist Beeple’s NFT “Everydays – The First 5000 Days” has captured the public’s imagination, but already, holes are being poked in the art world’s rhapsodic claims that NFTs represent the foolproof future. Over the weekend, media strategist Michael Miraflor took to Twitter to claim that his NFTs on the platform Nifty Gateway had been stolen, and had purchased $10,000 worth of the platform’s daily drop without Miraflor’s knowledge.
Elsewhere on Twitter, other similar claims have been popping up that follow the same pattern: users of Nifty Gateway are complaining that their accounts are being hacked, and that thieves are subsequently using their account information to make purchases in the tens of thousands. Additionally, critiques of NFTs themselves are beginning to circulate and gain traction as the initial surge of excitement fades. “Two big problems with NFTs are 1) the seller may not own the artwork and 2) multiple NFTs may be created for a single artwork,” the popular Twitter user Pixelated Boat wrote. “Clearly the solution is to build a trusted platform that can verify the seller’s identity and that transactions are unique, then use that instead of NFTs.”
Perhaps most crucially, there have also been concerns raised about whether the extraordinary Christie’s sale of Beeple’s NFT was more transactionally shadowy than had been previously understood. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that while NFTs aren’t going to go away anytime soon, artistic integrity and the integrity of platforms like Nifty Gateway are going to have to be prioritized. In a world in which everything is for sale, commodities can be very easily appropriated and stolen.
In a statement, Nifty Gateway said that they’ve seen “no indication of compromise of the Nifty Gateway platform,” and elaborated that the accounts that had been effected didn’t have 2-factor authentication enabled. “We have seen some reports that NFTs involved in these account takeovers were sold in transactions negotiated over Discord or Twitter,” the statement continued. “We strongly encourage all Nifty Gateway customers to purchase their NFTs on the official Nifty Gateway marketplace.”