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Trump collection of digital trading cards sells out

Business The website offering digital trading cards showing former US President Donald Trump in guises such as a superhero, astronaut and Nascar driver says the items have already sold out. Mr Trump promoted the “limited-edition cards” late on Thursday, saying one could “make a great Christmas gift”. There were 45,000 of the cards, available for $99 each, according to OpenSea, which tracks such offerings. The announcement drew criticism and mockery, including from Republicans.   “I can’t do this anymore,” Steve Bannon, a right-wing media commentator and former chief strategist for Mr Trump, said about the sale on his podcast. Anyone involved in the project “ought to be fired today,” he added.   Mr Trump, who launched his third bid for the White House last month, had triggered speculation this week after saying he would make a “major announcement”. Some commentators had expected him to potentially name a running mate for his presidential campaign. Instead, the billionaire – who frequently licensed his name even before he entered the White House – posted a promotional video for the cards on his social media platform, Truth Social. The clip featured an animated version of the former president in front of the Trump Tower in New York, who rips open his shirt to reveal a superhero costume emblazoned with the letter T as lasers shoot from his eyes. Later on Truth Social Mr Trump said the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were “very much like a baseball card, but hopefully much more exciting”. The “one-of-a-kind” assets in the digital world can be bought and sold like any other piece of property, but have no tangible form of their own.   They can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets. Advocates say NFTs are the digital answer to collectibles, but critics have warned about risks in the market, which emerged from the wider world of cryptocurrency. Activity in the space has dropped this year, alongside a plunge in cryptocurrencies. A report for the US Congress this year noted that NFT sales have been used to collect credit card and other financial information, and been subject to other scams. Move mocked Mr Trump, who has raised millions of dollars since his defeat in the 2020 election, frequently sends out fundraising appeals including one tied to holiday wrapping paper on Friday. Some on social media speculated that sale of NFTs was to help fund the legal battles that he is embroiled in. The funds would not be put towards his presidential campaign, according to the website for the NFTs.   “These Digital Trading Cards are not political and have nothing to do with any political campaign,” it said. “NFT INT LLC is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Digital LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates,” it added. The Trump family has explored NFT sales before. In February, Bloomberg reported that art of Melania Trump – which sold for what was then roughly $180,000 – had been purchased by a wallet tied to the creator of the image. At the time, Ms Trump said the transaction was “facilitated on behalf of a third party buyer”. More Stories Crypto firm BlockFi files for bankruptcy The Inquiry Ethereum change cut cryptocurrency power demand S Korea says crypto-fugitive Do Kwon is in Serbia FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried arrested in Bahamas

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What are NFTs and why are some worth millions?

Technology Former US President Donald Trump has launched a collection of digital trading cards depicting him in various guises including a superhero, astronaut and Nascar driver. The cards are being offered as a “non-fungible token” (NFT), a way of owning the original digital image. Where Bitcoin was hailed as the digital answer to currency, NFTs are now being touted as the digital answer to collectables, but plenty of sceptics fear they’re a bubble waiting to burst. What is a non-fungible token? In economics, a fungible asset is something with units that can be readily interchanged – like money.   With money, you can swap a £10 note for two £5 notes and it will have the same value. However, if something is non-fungible, this is impossible – it means it has unique properties so it can’t be interchanged with something else.   It could be a house, or a painting such as the Mona Lisa, which is one of a kind. You can take a photo of the painting or buy a print but there will only ever be one original painting. NFTs are “one-of-a-kind” assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold like any other piece of property, but which have no tangible form of their own. The digital tokens can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets. How do NFTs work? Traditional works of art such as paintings are valuable precisely because they are one of a kind. But digital files can be easily and endlessly duplicated. With NFTs, artwork can be “tokenised” to create a digital certificate of ownership that can be bought and sold. How much are NFTs worth? In theory, anybody can 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 than $500,000 (£365,000). A few weeks later, musician Grimes sold some of her digital art for more than $6m.   It is not just art that is tokenised and sold. Twitter’s founder Jack Dorsey has promoted an NFT of the first-ever tweet, with bids hitting $2.5m.   What’s 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 artist even retains the copyright ownership of their work, so they can continue to produce and sell copies. But the buyer of the NFT owns a “token” that proves they own the “original” work. Some people compare it to buying an autographed print. Is this a bubble? A day before his record-breaking auction, Beeple – whose real name is Mike Winkelmann – told the BBC: “I actually do think there will be a bubble, to be quite honest. “And I think we could be in that bubble 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 you probably won’t,” he warned. The people actually selling the NFTs are “crypto-grifters”, he said. “The same guys who’ve always been at it, trying to come up 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 just strange,” he told the BBC. “I think people who invest in it are slight mugs, but I hope they don’t lose their money.”

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