Former U.s.a. President Donald Trump has launched a collection of digital trading cards depicting him in diverse guises including a superhero, astronaut and Nascar driver.
The cards are being offered every bit a "non-fungible token" (NFT), a way of owning the original digital image.
Where Bitcoin was hailed every bit the digital answer to currency, NFTs are now existence touted as the digital reply to collectables, but enough of sceptics fright they're a chimera waiting to burst.
What is a not-fungible token?
In economics, a fungible asset is something with units that can be readily interchanged - like money.
With money, you lot tin swap a £ten annotation for two £5 notes and information technology will take the same value.
Yet, if something is non-fungible, this is impossible - information technology means it has unique backdrop so it can't be interchanged with something else.
It could be a house, or a painting such as the Mona Lisa, which is i of a kind. You tin have a photo of the painting or buy a impress simply in that location will only e'er be 1 original painting.
NFTs are "1-of-a-kind" assets in the digital globe that can be bought and sold similar any other piece of holding, but which have no tangible class of their own.
The digital tokens can be thought of every bit certificates of ownership for virtual or concrete assets.
How practise NFTs work?
Traditional works of fine art such as paintings are valuable precisely considering they are ane of a kind.
But digital files can be easily and endlessly duplicated.
With NFTs, artwork can exist "tokenised" to create a digital certificate of ownership that tin can be bought and sold.
As with crypto-currency, a record of who owns what is stored on a shared ledger known as the blockchain.
The records cannot exist forged because the ledger is maintained by thousands of computers around the globe.
NFTs can likewise comprise smart contracts that may give the creative person, for case, a cutting of any futurity sale of the token.
How much are NFTs worth?
In theory, anybody tin tokenise their work to sell as an NFT but interest has been fuelled by headlines of multi-million-dollar sales.
An animated Gif of Nyan Cat - a 2011 meme of a flying pop-tart cat - sold for more $500,000 (£365,000).
It is not only fine art that is tokenised and sold. Twitter's founder Jack Dorsey has promoted an NFT of the starting time-always tweet, with bids hitting $ii.5m.
Merely equally with crypto-currencies, there are concerns virtually the ecology bear on of maintaining the blockchain.
What'south stopping people copying the digital art?
Nothing. Millions of people have seen Beeple's art that sold for $69m and the image has been copied and shared countless times.
In many cases, the creative person even retains the copyright ownership of their work, so they can go along to produce and sell copies.
But the heir-apparent of the NFT owns a "token" that proves they own the "original" piece of work.
Some people compare information technology to buying an autographed print.
Is this a bubble?
A day before his record-breaking sale, Beeple - whose existent name is Mike Winkelmann - told the BBC: "I actually practise think there volition be a bubble, to be quite honest.
"And I think we could be in that chimera right now."
Many are even more sceptical.
David Gerard, author of Attack of the 50-foot Blockchain, said he saw NFTs as buying "official collectables", similar to trading cards.
"There are some artists absolutely making bank on this stuff... it's just that y'all probably won't," he warned.
The people actually selling the NFTs are "crypto-grifters", he said.
"The same guys who've always been at information technology, trying to come up upward with a new form of worthless magic bean that they can sell for money."
Former Christie's auctioneer Charles Allsopp said the concept of buying NFTs made "no sense".
"The idea of buying something which isn't there is merely strange," he told the BBC.
"I think people who invest in it are slight mugs, simply I hope they don't lose their money."