In December 2019, Josh Sandhu made his first investment in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) picking up a handful of collectible digital artworks. Two years later, the value of Sandhu’s investments had increased 75-fold enabling the graphic designer turned NFT collector to cash out and buy his first house.
Now the 31-year-old art collector wants to help other investors achieve the same success.
“I was lucky enough to get in early,” said Sandhu, who was investing in crypto as far back as 2012. “You have to be in the scene. If you’re not, you lose out on a lot of opportunities.”
Sandhu is one of three co-founders at Quantus Gallery, an NFT art gallery and advisory service based in Spitalfields, London which is due to open its doors to the public later this month. Co-founder James Ryan runs Grove Square Galleries, a traditional gallery which specialises in contemporary art, while Ryan Marsh has a background in investments.
The decision to launch a physical art gallery for NFTs follows an explosion of interest in the space last year. At the start of 2021 NFTs were known to only a handful of crypto enthusiasts. By the start of 2022, the market had exploded into a $40bn industry, rivalling the traditional art market which saw $50bn of sales in 2020.
“This is a booming market. There’s so much talent there,” said Sandhu, who is aiming to help investors navigate the risks of the digital art world with the launch of Europe’s first NFT advisory.
Despite the hype, investing in NFTs remains a risky business with theft and fraud commonplace in unregulated online marketplaces. A particularly unfortunate episode last year saw a British art collector pay a hacker £244k for an NFT supposedly by Banksy after a fake link to an auction was posted on the artist’s official website.
“It’s still kind of the Wild West,” admits Sandhu, calling for online marketplaces to do more to self regulate “I’ve been keeping an eye on it since the early days so I know how to spot if something is dodgy,” he added.
A 95 per cent failure rate
Quantus also plans to guide investors through the fraught process of identifying value in an over saturated, highly speculative market for digital collectibles.
“The majority of projects out there, are not going to do well,” claims Sandhu, who agrees with the bleak assessment that 95 per cent of NFTs will be worthless in the next five years.
“A lot of the market value is just the initial hype,” he continued. “The companies have really good marketing campaigns, sell all their stuff, but the projects lack substance.”
One project the gallery is backing is Crypto Stars, a collection of 333 cartoon images of famous individuals from Gandhi to Einstein to Pocahontas by digital artist Pierre Benjamin.
When the Gallery opens officially on 23 March visitors will be able to view the collection displayed on Samsung TV screens hung on the walls of the studio. According to Marsh, the art works are selling for £5,000 a piece in a pre-sale, giving the collection a market cap of £1.6m.
“Every week, every month people have been screaming from the rooftops that crypto is a bubble,” commented Sandhu. “It’s here to stay.”