Ja Rule enters the NFT market and sells Fyre Festival painting as crypto art

The rapper is selling a physical painting from when he was involved in the infamous festival that never happened

American rapper Ja Rule is selling an artwork from Fyre Festival as an NFT. David Goldman / AP Photo
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US rapper Ja Rule is the latest famous name to get in on the much talked-about non-fungible tokens game. The Always On Time singer is currently auctioning off an artwork he commissioned back when he was co-producer of the infamous Fyre Festival.

What is Flipkick?

Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, was originally going to sell the oil painting on eBay, according to Insider, but now he's launching a platform called Flipkick – which he's joined as a partner and head of artists and repertoire – that plans to sell both physical and digital art as NFTs.

"If you're old like me, you're used to having tangible things to collect. But you've got to let your mind be open to the new," Ja Rule told The Art Newspaper. "I feel like we can be the Christie's of physical NFTs. We want to involve celebrities and dope influencers. Banksy, if you're reading this, Rule would love to sell you baby!"

Flipkick claims to be "the first company to offer cryptographic authentication of physical works of art sold as and linked to NFTs".

While most NFTs are solely digital, some sold on Flipkick will feature a digital ledger entry for a tangible item. Once a piece is sold at auction, the buyer can then resell it, or redeem the token for the physical artwork.

What is the artwork Ja Rule is selling?

The piece, by US painter Tripp Derrick Barnes, is a 48-inch-by-60-inch portrait of Fyre Media, Inc's corporate logo. It has a black background and a colourful flame, with the word "fyre" beneath it.

"Bold with his trademark flamboyance and vivid colour palette, Barnes' painting once spoke of an endless font of ambition," reads the description on the Flipkick website. "Now it speaks of the fever dreams of a man whose reach exceeded his grasp."

The canvas has been hanging in Ja Rule's New Jersey mansion since the company's offices closed a few years ago.

"I just wanted the bad energy gone," he said in an interview this week.

Bidding for the portrait began on Tuesday and will run for seven days, with a reserve price set at $600,000, which means it can't go for anything less than that.

The buyer can also request for it to be signed by the rapper.

The auction ends on Tuesday at 8pm EDT.

Fyre Festival: the greatest party that never happened

Ja Rule co-produced Fyre Festival in 2017 alongside founder Billy McFarland. It was supposed to be an illustrious event in the Bahamas that instead turned into a disastrous debacle.

Fyre. Courtesy Netflix
Ja Rule (left) and Fyre Festival organiser Billy McFarland. Courtesy Netflix

In a bid to promote Atkins's Fyre app, which was designed to allow people to book talent more easily, McFarland decided to throw a massive party – which eventually morphed into Fyre Festival.

They promised people who bought tickets a fun time, fine cuisine, famous guests and performers, and luxury dwellings, as high-profile supermodels and influencers promoted the party across social media.

Instead, all festival-goers got was an overcrowded island, leftover hurricane tents and a disappointing cheese sandwich.

Both Netflix and Hulu have aired documentaries about the fallout. Now, it's dubbed "the greatest party that never happened".

What is Iconn?

Atkins is now also promoting Iconn, an app he's launched that sounds very similar to the Fyre app. It's a celebrity booking platform that was developed with the engineering team from Fyre Media.

Fat Joe and Ashanti are among those users can book using the beta version of the website, while the mobile app is still in the works.

Ja Rule has repeatedly insisted that it is different from the original Fyre app.

What is crypto art and NFTs?

NFTs are digital certificates that authenticate ownership through blockchain technology. NFTs can come in the form of drawings, music, video or other digital media, even tweets, memes, online articles or podcasts.

The NFT exists on the blockchain, where it cannot be copied or manipulated.

Since they are verified with a digital signature, they offer the advantage of easier authentication important to the art world. They also enable a digital work to be tagged, in a sense, as an original, which adds value to a medium that can be easily copied and duplicated.

CORRECTION / This undated handout image obtained March 10, 2021, courtesy of Christie's shows a digital art collage by Beeple, for sale in New York. The digital collage by the American artist Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann, a pioneer of the exploding virtual art market, sold for a record $69.3 million, Christie's announced on March 11, 2021. "Everydays: The First 5,000 Days" is now the most expensive NFT -- non-fungible token, or collectible digital asset transformed using blockchain into something ownable -- ever sold. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /CHRISTIE'S AUCTION HOUSE/HANDOUT " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
'Everydays: The First 5000 Days' by Beeple. Courtesy the artist and Christie's

Earlier this month, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, by artist Beeple, made history by becoming the first virtual NFT artwork to to be sold by a major auction house, for a staggering $69.4 million, snowballing from a starting bid of $100.

Christie's reported that 22 million people tuned in "for the final moments of the historic sale".