Dan Carter’s Glorious, celebrate 100 years of Centre Court.
One of the flow-on effects from the digital phenomenon that is NFTs, is professional sports stars will soon start to include NFT rights in their contracts – according to the Kiwi start-up creating and marketing the release of Wimbledon's just-released Centenary Collection.
Glorious Digital, the company whose shareholding includes former All Black Dan Carter, former Sky TV founder Craig Heatley and former Solicitor-General Mike Heron, have released 10 digital artworks NFTs in partnership with Wimbledon. Each artwork, detailing Wimbledon's finest centre court moments from 1922 to 2022, comes in an edition of 100.
Potential buyers have until July 3 to enter a ballot. If successful, they can buy one of the editions for £500 (about NZ$970), says Glorious Digital CEO Tim Harper. He is expecting a deluge of international interest in what he calls "digital masterpieces".
However, with NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) in comparative infancy and with Glorious Digital occupying the premium end of the NFT market, Harper says an inevitable development is for professional athletes to write NFT rights into their contracts with employers and sponsors.
NFTs are crypto assets which record ownership of a digital item, such as an image, video or text, on blockchain. While anyone can view or download it, only the buyer can claim ownership. The NFT wave has become a popular means of collection around the world, with many linked to sporting leagues, such as NBA Top Shot and UFC Strike.
NFTs are not just about primary ownership – the secondary market is just as important and, just as in real-life art trading, for example, prices fetched down the line can eclipse those paid originally.
Harper says Glorious Digital's work with artists' NFTs – like New Zealand's Rita Angus estate – include a provision that any on-sale of the NFT will net the artist 7-8 per cent of the price, depending on the arrangement. That's a vast improvement on the real-life situation where artists have to watch as their work is often sold on for heavily inflated prices, from which they get nothing.
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Sports stars will soon be able to do the same thing, says Harper; he expects more to start writing NFT rights into contracts so they can take advantage of images of themselves during – and after – their sporting career ends.
"Our partnership with Wimbledon has been amazing," he says. "We have been able to take a deep dive into their archives to find all the best centre court moments from the 1920s on. Wimbledon have a wonderful collection.
"So it has been straightforward dealing with Wimbledon, an amazing outfit and a legacy institution. They were among the very early adopters of NFT and manage to mix a sense of history, tradition and occasion with technology. They've been around for over 100 years – and will be here for hundreds more."
That first foray into NFTs came last year when Wimbledon worked with two-time tournament winner Andy Murray and another company to celebrate Murray's Wimbledon success in 2013. One of the tokens in the series, depicting his match-winning point, fetched US$177,000 at auction, while 600 limited-edition NFTs representing other moments related to the 2013 victory were sold at prices between US$49 and US$4999.
When Glorious Digital announced its deal with Wimbledon, Carter said: "The stories of those who have played Wimbledon have inspired, nurtured and elevated not only tennis players, but also a global fan base of millions."
Glorious is working in the premier end of the market, with legacy institutions like Wimbledon; Harper says he has more announcements to follow with other such organisations.
Harper says sport and art lend themselves well to NFTs and says many of the early sporting efforts have been more like "clip art" or "trading cards" – whereas Glorious Digital and Wimbledon offer more "digital masterpieces" which can be viewed and traded on their website.
"With the Centenary Collection, we and Wimbledon are doing something different," he says. "Not only is it all the agony and ecstasy of 100 years of centre court, we are also bringing iconic moments of fashion, history and cultural reference. I think when people see what is on offer they will be captivated - and it's available at an affordable price."