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NFTs in M’sia this week: Katun’s apes that sold for RM10mil aim to take WWF to the metaverse


Last week on NFTs in Malaysia, a Malaysian decided to get a piece of the selfie NFT pie, i-City revealed it was putting RM10 million towards a metaverse attraction, and more.

This week, the spotlight is on nature.

Selling apes to save the larger ecosystem

If one thing’s for sure in the NFT world, we know that apes are hot (…and no, not in that way).

It can be said that the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) paved the way for more ape-like NFT collections to gain traction, even locally.

In a mint event that happened roughly two weeks ago, local artist Katun amassed RM10 million in sales through a collaborative NFT project to “bring WWF Malaysia into the metaverse”.

Known as Apes R Us, it involves the sale of some 8,444 hand-illustrated apes by Katun. To those unfamiliar with the name, Katun is a street artist who’s also previously sold an NFT called “Garden of Bloom” for roughly RM1.6 million.

The apes listed on OpenSea

Buyers worldwide could purchase the unique ape characters for 0.0888 ETH each (RM1,150.08 at the time of writing). Katun was able to sell out all 8,000 of his works in about three days (with 444 pieces kept by the team for marketing purposes), according to a source we spoke to.

This would make Katun’s RM10 million sale one of the highest we’ve seen in Malaysia’s NFT market so far.

Furthermore, Katun and his Apes R Us co-founder, David, will be hosting an auction to sell specially designed NFTs for WWF Malaysia. Not much has been revealed about this auction yet, so we’ve reached out to David to learn more about it.

Looking for artists

With OpenSea being the largest and most popular NFT marketplace globally, it appears that Malaysian developers are aspiring to rival it.

Pentas.io and Artlab.live are two NFT marketplaces that were launched by Malaysian founders. Now, another Malaysian-born marketplace is about to go live. Its founder, Zang Tan, is looking to onboard more artists for his site, NFTapir (pronounced NF-Tapir). 

In a phone call, Zang explained that NFTapir is meant to bring contemporary artists (such as those who create art through mediums like watercolours) into the digital world.

Through NFTapir, artists can mint a digital copy of their pieces on the site, and buyers can purchase its NFT, which is envisioned to have a floor price of around US$250 or about RM1,050. 

There are currently six artworks on NfTapir

This floor price was chosen to appeal to experienced contemporary artists who don’t appreciate the idea of selling their works for a lower value of RM20 each. The latter value is especially common on marketplaces transacting in high volume, according to Zang.

To add, if a buyer happens to be an art collector and wants a physical copy of the artwork, they can contact the artist to redeem it, subject to legal conditions that Zang is currently working out. 

Transactions on NFTapir will be made via ERC20 tokens, the cryptocurrency transacted on the Ethereum blockchain.

There are now six artworks listed on the site, and NFTapir is looking to onboard 100 artists by February 28 in preparation for its launch. Early birds that mint on NFTapir will be given access to the platform’s gas-free minting feature.

From what I reckon, it appears that NFTapir is targeting a market of artists and collectors who actually transact in traditional, physical art galleries (where prices are high, and art appreciation higher).

This fills a gap in the market where traditional artists struggled during the lockdowns, unable to physically showcase their works.

Malaysia through a microscope

A newer NFT project that quite stood out to us is called MicroMalaysia. 

NFTs in M’sia this week: Katun's apes that sold for RM10mil aim to take WWF to the metaverseLook at those tiny details / Image Credit: MicroMalaysia

We’re pretty fond of miniature artworks if these features on a miniature museum of Malaysia and bespoke mystery dial watches are of anything to go by.

The artist behind MicroMalaysia is Firdausi Jais, who uses his digital artworks to illustrate popular and point-of-interest places in Malaysia.

On his OpenSea profile, you’ll find four pieces encapsulating the Rawang bypass, Sekinchan, Bandar Baru Selayang, and Pulau Pangkor, listed at 0.03 ETH each (RM385.31 at the time of writing). Each artwork comes with a description of the history of each location.

So far, the artworks have yet to be traded on OpenSea, but it would be exciting to see what other locations Firdausi comes up with next. Heritage sites and culturally-relevant locations would be our bet.

If you’ve got something NFT-related to share that’s both exciting and locally-relevant, hit us up with your story at [email protected]. Read more of our NFT content here.

Featured Image Credit: Apes R Us / NFTapir / MicroMalaysia

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