A CryptoPunk non-fungible token (NFT) — CryptoPunk #8690 — was sold at an auction in Shanghai organized by Shanghai Jiahe Auction earlier this week for 5,232,500 yuan (US$823,300), with a starting price of 1.5 million yuan (US$236,000), reflecting growing investor interest in NFTs in China despite criticism from state-controlled media.

Fast facts

  • V.V Yu, general manager of Shanghai Jiahe Auction’s modern and contemporary art department, told Forkast.News the payment for the NFT was made in Chinese yuan terms, and the seller will settle the transfer of the NFT with the successful bidder themselves. Yu said the auction house has closely followed the NFT trend and organized its first NFT auction back in June 2021.
  • The latest sale, which formed part of an auction including more traditional artwork, signaled Chinese investors’ growing interests in the new form of digital collectibles, despite the country’s state media publicly criticizing the NFT hype and speculation.
  • Although NFTs are not included in China’s stepped-up ban against cryptocurrency-related activities, the country’s state media have expressed strong concerns over such collectibles. Chinese tech giants, including Alibaba and Tencent, have since rebranded their NFT features and instead changed their references to “digital collectibles.”
  • Ironically, state-owned Xinhua News Agency seems keen to ride on the NFT wave by issuing its own “digital collectibles.” On Dec. 24, the state media released its own NFTs for free, featuring 11 news photos from its archive this year, with each limited to 10,000 copies. Xinhua said the collection — built on Tencent’s Zhixin chain — is a “unique year-end review” and represents the “digital memory imprinted in the metaverse.”