ColossalBit, a Dubai-based technology company with a special focus on non-fungible tokens (NFTs), has purchased the NFT of the ST DuPont pen used by football legend Diego Maradona to sign a contract with Napoli in 1984.
The company purchased the NFT for $26,000, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
Organised by Singapore-based EX Sports Starz and partners, the auction for the original pen and its NFT was held in Dubai on October 30 on what would have been the late football star’s 61st birthday.
"Legends do not come bigger than Diego Maradona," said Ciro Arianna, co-founder and chief executive of ColossalBit.
“Every football fan, across age groups, remembers him for the finesse he brought to the pitch.
“The NFTs of his memorabilia will immortalise him and keep his legacy alive. For the love of football and ‘the Golden Boy’ Maradona, we pulled out all the stops to secure the pen he used to sign for Napoli."
The Argentine player and manager, who passed away on November 25 last year, recorded his highest goal tally while playing for Napoli.
Nearly a year after his passing, Maradona’s estate tokenised 10 items from his illustrious career. These included the ST DuPont pen, a signed shirt from the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, a signed freestyle football and Maradona’s best-player trophy from the FIFA Youth World Championship in 1979.
An NFT is a type of crypto asset that uses blockchain to record the ownership status of digital objects. Although anyone can view the item, only the buyer of an NFT has the certified status of being its owner.
Unlike currencies, in which every token is of equal value and can be swapped for any other, NFTs have unique qualities that stop them from being interchangeable or fungible.
The NFT market is booming in the wake of Covid-19 as investors seek alternate and more profitable avenues to channel excess liquidity. Mike Winkelmann, the digital artist who goes by the name Beeple, made headlines in March this year when he sold an NFT for $69 million.
Besides art, people are also spending millions of dollars on NFT collectibles that include sports trading cards, digital houses, augmented reality trainers, music and video games. For instance, an NFT of Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold for about $3m.
Maradona’s items were certified as official by the World Football Collection and his estate legally authorised their name and usage rights.
The ST DuPont pen and its NFT garnered the highest bid among the four platinum-tier memorabilia that were auctioned in October.
The three other platinum-tier NFTs were purchased by Miroslav Neceda, co-owner of Czech digital marketing agency Avedeo.ae and chief executive of Blockchain Universe. He is also the chief executive of the Dubai-based World Blockchain Union that handles marketing for various blockchain-centric businesses across the world.
“We are all joined in our shared belief of a marketplace that is inclusive, transparent and lucrative. NFTs have also found an admirer in Dubai, where we are mobilising a blockchain movement ... ColossalBit will continue to lead the NFT charge in the region,” Mr Arianna said.
Recently, ColossalBit made the winning bid of $56,000 for the world’s first augmented reality NFT mural called “Future NFT Dubai” that is now live at the Dubai International Finance Centre. It was also involved in the world’s first NFT-linked fine dining and art experience.
NFT sales volume surged more than eight-fold to $10.7 billion in the third quarter of this year, up 704 per cent over the previous three-month period to the end of June, according to data from market tracker DappRadar.
Sales volumes recorded on OpenSea, the largest NFT trading platform, hit $3.4bn in August, according to DappRadar. In January 2021, the monthly volume recorded on the platform was more than $8m.