Key Takeaways

The NFT version of the newsmagazine’s “Down the Rabbit Hole” cover from September has sold for 99.9 ETH.
“Down the Rabbit Hole” was a cover story on “The beguiling promise of decentralized finance.”
The money raised from the sale will be donated to charity.

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The Economist has had a rather successful foray into the world of NFTs, having sold the NFT of its “Down the Rabbit Hole” cover for 99.9 ETH today. The newspaper has said the money will be donated to its educational charity. 

Beginner’s Luck

The NFT of The Economist’s “Down the Rabbit Hole” cover, published on Sep. 18 of this year, sold a few hours ago today for 99.9 ETH—over $420,000 at the time of the sale. 

The cover art was originally made by a digital artist named Justin Metz. He based this piece on drawings by Sir John Tenniel, a prominent 19th-Century English artist and illustrator, who prepared them for the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865.

The “Down the Rabbit Hole” NFT was minted on Oct. 21, 2021, by The Economist, an international financial newspaper founded in London in 1843. On Oct. 25, the publication listed the NFT for 0.1843 ETH. Just three minutes later, it received its first bid (0.2 ETH). One minute later, it received another bid (0.3 ETH). Bids continued to come in throughout the day until the bidding reached 10 ETH ($42,263.60) last night at 11:41 PM. The bidding picked up with a vengeance again early this morning, jumping up to six figures by mid-morning. The auction was finally won today at 12:17 pm for 99.9 ETH ($422,600.98) by a bidder under the alias @9x9x9.

When asked why they bought the NFT, @9x9x9 told The Economist that one of the main reasons was simply the aptness of the phrase “Down the Rabbit Hole.”

The newspaper claims that it wanted to further grasp this world of NFTs, so it jumped “down the rabbit hole” by minting its own. The proceeds of the sale will be donated to the Economist Educational Fund, which the newspaper calls “an independent charity that teaches young people to analyse current affairs.” 

“Crooks, Fools, and Proselytizers”

The September 18, 2021 cover piece weighed some pros and cons of DeFi. On DeFi generally, the author wrote: 

“The crooks, fools and proselytisers are off-putting. Nevertheless, the rise of an ecosystem of financial services… deserves sober considerations. It has the potential to rewire how the financial system works, with all the promise and perils that entails.” 

The author compares the rapid innovation in DeFi to the early days of the web. The piece mentions that beyond the financial instruments that many are familiar with in the traditional world, DeFi could spread to “more ambitious terrain”—a decentralized digital world dubbed the “metaverse.”

However, the piece later turns more towards DeFi’s perils, such as scalability issues (including Ethereum’s high fees). The author expresses concern that DeFi will be “vulnerable to panics” due to the perceived “lack of an external anchor of value” like a government or central bank. The author also wonders how smart contracts might be enforced “outside the virtual world.”

In addition, the author mentions concerns about money laundering and expresses doubt as to how decentralized the DeFi system really is. The author further writes: “A sequence of large irrevocable transactions that humans cannot override could be dangerous, especially as coding errors are inevitable.”

The piece ends in favor of regulation for DeFi adoption, claiming that for it to succeed, it must “integrate with the conventional financial and legal systems.” Ultimately, the author writes that the DAOs which run DeFi applications “should become subject to laws and regulations.”

The Economist writes that it will have more to say on NFTs in the future. 

Disclaimer: At the time of writing, the author of this feature owned BTC, ETH, and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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