Late on a Friday last spring, Izzy Pollak decided to buy two Bored Ape NFTs — which, as a reminder for the many people thinking, Yeah, but I still don’t know what an NFT is — means he bought unique, digital images (in this case, of apes).
As the owner of a Bored Ape, he now has commercial rights over the digital image to do with as he wishes. Many people choose to display their NFTs as their profile picture on social media accounts.
(And if you’re wondering how ownership of a digital asset can be proven: Every NFT, or non-fungible token, has a distinct serial number, and the transaction history of each NFT is stored on the blockchain, so people can see who the real owner is.)
Mr. Pollak, 29, who bought three more a few months later, obtained these from a collection of 10,000 NFTs known as the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Some of the apes are wearing gold jackets or animal-print tunics. Others are smoking cigars or smiling widely.
At the time, Mr. Pollak, who works for Genies, a tech start-up in Los Angeles that makes NFTs and avatars, didn’t have a lot of disposable income. “I was living in a four-bedroom townhouse with three other people,” he said. “We all shared a bathroom. It felt like college life.”
He didn’t come from money, either. During the 2008 financial crisis, Mr. Pollak said, when he was 16, his mother couldn’t pay the mortgage, so he and his family had to rent an apartment.
Mr. Pollak’s interest in NFTs was spurred by hearing people talk about them on Clubhouse. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is insane. I’m about to spend hundreds of dollars on a picture of a monkey,’” he said.
Turns out it was a wise decision. Last fall, several months after he had bought his first NFTs, Mr. Pollak’s apes skyrocketed in value. He sold one that he had bought for approximately 14 Ether (a virtual currency that was worth about $40,000 on the day of the purchase) for around 70 Ether (approximately $231,000 on the day of sale).
He used the money for a down payment on a three-bedroom house in Los Angeles with a backyard. “We call it the Chimp Chalet,” he said, laughing. “I always wanted to own a house but never thought I could make it work.”