Are NFTs just another celebrity-fueled trend?

Celebrities are jumping on the NFT stocks bandwagon big time. Being part of the same movement as the stars might have an impact on some people’s decision to invest in NFT stock, but is the celebrity profile raising NFT stock price, or are celebrities borrowing from the sector’s momentum?

Celebrity NFT trades help fuel interest in NFTs

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are blockchain-based tokens that authenticate digital assets, making them perfect for artists, musicians, film stars, and many other celebrities to use to derive revenue from their creations. NFTs can represent a digital asset, like the Kings of Leon’s digital album1, or a real-life experience, like Simone Biles’ double-double balance dismount2

Celebrity involvement is helping keep NFTs in the media and bringing them to the attention of more potential investors. For example, investments in Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFTs (and their price) spiked after celebrities like Jimmy Fallon admitted that they’d bought one3. “Celebrities are extremely important for this space,” notes DAO builder Cooper Turley4.

One of the first big NFT investors went by the pseudonym of Cozomo Medici, amassing a wallet worth over $17 million that includes some of the oldest NFTs. In September, rapper Snoop Dogg revealed that he is the man behind the name5. Other celebrities who helped get the NFT ball rolling include actor William Shatner, who minted 10,000 NFT digital trading cards in July 2020, and socialite Paris Hilton, who auctioned a drawing of her cat in August of the same year6.

Music stars and artists like to push the envelope

Not surprisingly, artists and musicians were quick off the mark, interested in pushing new genres and finding new ways of reaching people. Banksy joined the movement in March 2021, when he minted an NFT from his “Morons” print71, for example, and digital artist Beeple sold his artwork “EVERYDAYS: The First 5000 Days” as an NFT in the same month8.

Many musicians turned to NFTs to keep up a relationship with their fans during COVID-19. Synth-pop singer Grimes sold 10 NFTs in February 20219, Shawn Mendes sold wearables of his vest, necklace, earrings, and a virtual guitar10; and Jay-Z auctioned an NFT for his debut album “Reasonable Doubt” through Sotheby’s11, while NFT platform OneOf represents big names like Quincy Jones, John Legend, Charlie Puth, and Whitney Houston’s estate12.  

Metaverse concerts have also become a (virtual) reality, with avatars of musicians like Ariana Grande, The Weekend, and ABBA taking the virtual stage13. The metaverse is a virtual-reality space which functions as a collection of interoperable shared online worlds that allow users to move from platform to platform with the same avatar, wealth, and digital possessions. Tickets to these concerts are themselves NFTs, and you can expect them to become hot collectibles in their own right.

Celebrity NFT activity isn’t slowing down

The list of celebrities involved in NFTs keeps on growing. Quentin Tarantino hopes to sell 7 NFTs of uncut scenes from Pulp Fiction14; Justin Roiland, creator of Rick and Morty, has an NFT collection15; and Mila Kunis sold all 10,420 NFTs for new Stoner Cats, her new animated show, within 40 minutes in July 202116

Fashion brands are participating too, with Burberry collaborating with Mythical to launch a line of branded in-game NFT accessories for the Blankos Block Party game17;  Dolce & Gabbana selling a digital fashion collection18; and Nike offering blockchain-based NFT-sneakers called “CryptoKicks.19” 

Other celebrities who’ve joined the NFT circuit include talk show host Ellen de Generes; entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk20; and Martha Stewart. Stewart’s Halloween NFTs of pumpkin carvings and previous Halloween costumes sold so quickly21 that she followed up with a Thanksgiving series that includes the first “storytelling NFT,” an audio recording of Martha sharing Thanksgiving memories. 

Perhaps surprisingly, sports stars have been very active in the NFT scene. Dapper’s NBA TopShots are among the foundational NFTs that helped give the sector its early momentum, and might have played a part in attracting sports stars to the space. Leading athletes who have minted NFTs include NFL player Rob Gronkowski22, heavyweight champion Tyson Fury23; and skateboarder icon Tony Hawk24. Usain Bolt, Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, and Tiger Woods all minted trading card NFTs through Autograph25, a sports-focused NFT platform co-founded by NFL quarterback Tom Brady26.  Footballer Lionel Messi sold 4 crypto artworks called the Messiverse27, which are now valued at around $9 million28.

NFTs don’t need celebrities any more

It’s arguable that although celebrity NFT activity might help bring NFTs to public awareness, stars are riding the wave, not driving it. 

Certainly, an NFT won’t succeed just because it’s been minted by or features a famous figure. NFT artist pplpleasr points out that “Just because you’re a super big celebrity in the traditional world doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’re going to be successful when you do an NFT drop.29” Many celebrity NFTs are seeing secondary sales drop dramatically. Assets from stars like Grimes, wrestler John Cena, rapper A$AP Rocky, and DJ Calvin Harris have all lost value over the past few months and are now selling well below their original sale price30.

Either way, NFT sales are showing no signs of failing. August saw sales reach new heights, with 5.6 million registered sales31 driving $5.2 billion in trading volume32. By September, there were 116,344 active unique trading wallets33, and NFT trading volume grew to $10.67 billion in Q3 2021, a jump of 704% from the previous quarter and representing 38,060% year-on-year growth34.

[source, as of July 4, 2022: https://www.theblock.co/data/nft-non-fungible-tokens/nft-overview/weekly-trade-volume-of-nfts]

Most importantly according to Dan Khomenko, CEO at NFT STARS! and SpaceSwap, the average price of an NFT is now $161, showing that there are thousands of willing customers35. With this kind of momentum, it’s unlikely that NFTs really need celebrities to keep the show on the road.

The NFT buzz could feed NFT stock prices

Although there are no guarantees that a celebrity NFT is going to soar, the media shine does help encourage people to enter the market. As Khomenko acknowledges, “celebrities and athletes getting into crypto almost ‘normalizes’ the NFT space.”36  This can make it more mainstream and encourage other influencers, creators and their followers to enter.

Investors looking for an alternative to a single NFT are turning to top NFT stocks that include NFT platforms, NFT creators, and NFT trading tools. One option is an NFT ETF like Defiance’s NFTZ, which that allows you to spread your investment across a number of promising NFT, blockchain, and cryptocurrency stocks with a single trade. NFTZ does not invest directly in NFTs, but in companies with relevant thematic exposure to the  NFT, blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystems. Its ETF structure helps mitigate exposure to risk while opening up access to this exciting and fast-moving sector.


1 “Kings of Leon Will Be the First Band to Release an Album as an NFT” March 3, 2021 https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/news/kings-of-leon-when-you-see-yourself-album-nft-crypto-1135192/ 

2 “Olympic champion Simone Biles to release new batch of NFTs inspired by her groundbreaking moves” November 15, 2021 https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2021/11/15/simone-biles-olympics-nft-collection-iconic-moves/8616523002/

3 “The Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection: What you need to know” December 7, 2021 https://www.cnet.com/how-to/explaining-the-bored-ape-yacht-club-nft-collection/ 

4 “Celebs Are Aping Into NFTs—But Star Power Won’t Ensure Success, Says Artist Pplpleasr” November 19, 2021 https://decrypt.co/86482/celebrities-nfts-market-success-artist-pplpleasr 

5 “Snoop Dogg reveals himself as NFT kingpin Cozomo de’ Medici” September 22, 2021 https://fortune.com/2021/09/22/snoop-dogg-cozomo-de-medici-nfts-crypto-wallet/ 

6 “These celebrities are bringing NFTs to the mainstream — and cashing in” March 9, 2021 https://www.businessofbusiness.com/articles/nft-celebrity-non-fungible-tokens-crypto-grimes-paris-hilton/

7 “Banksy art burned, destroyed and sold as token in ‘money-making stunt'” March 9, 2021 https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-56335948 

8 “Beeple NFT Artwork Sells for $69.3 Million in Christie’s Auction” March 11, 2021 https://decrypt.co/60971/beeples-nft-artwork-sells-for-60-3-million-in-christies-auction 

9 “These celebrities are bringing NFTs to the mainstream — and cashing in” March 9, 2021 https://www.businessofbusiness.com/articles/nft-celebrity-non-fungible-tokens-crypto-grimes-paris-hilton/ 

10 “Genies will sell one-of-a-kind digital goods for Shawn Mendes” February 25, 2021 https://venturebeat.com/2021/02/25/genies-will-sell-one-of-a-kind-digital-goods-for-shawn-mendes/

11 “These Celebrity NFT Newbies Are Influencing Others To Tap Into The Digital Space” October 28, 2021 https://afrotech.com/celebrity-nft-newbies-influence?item=3

12 “NFT’S are the future!” Thread on Reddit, September 2021 https://www.reddit.com/r/theta_network/comments/pl21bs/nfts_are_the_future/

13 “Touring The Musical Metaverse: Virtual Concerts are Here to Stay” September 7, 2021 https://www.virtualhumans.org/article/touring-the-musical-metaverse-virtual-concerts-are-here-to-stay 
“The Metaverse Concerts: Where Online Games and Music Performances Meet” November 2021 https://coinmarketcap.com/alexandria/article/the-metaverse-concerts-where-online-games-and-music-performances-meet 

14 “Miramax sues Quentin Tarantino over Pulp Fiction NFTs” November 17, 2021 https://www.theverge.com/2021/11/17/22787216/miramax-pulp-fiction-quentin-tarantino-nft-lawsuit

15 Justin Roiland Collection, Nifty Gateway https://niftygateway.com/collections/justinroiland862 

16 “Mila Kunis’ Animated ‘Stoner Cats’ Series Released as NFTs” August 6, 2021 https://www.awn.com/news/mila-kunis-animated-stoner-cats-series-released-nfts 

17 “BURBERRY DROPS NFT COLLECTION IN MYTHICAL GAMES’ BLANKOS BLOCK PARTY” August 4, 2021  https://www.burberryplc.com/en/news/brand/2021/Blankos.html

18 “Dolce&Gabbana’s debut NFT collection, Collezione Genesi, with UNXD” September 6, 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–WHNUP3Md4

19 “Nike Patents ‘CryptoKicks’ Blockchain Shoes” December 10, 2019 https://www.pymnts.com/innovation/2019/nike-patents-cryptokicks-blockchain-shoes/

20 “‘Second Coming’ of NFTs and What Is Driving New Wave” September 7, 2021 https://www.coinspeaker.com/second-coming-nfts-new-wave/

21 “Martha Launched a Halloween-Inspired Collection of NFTs That You Can Bid on Right Now” October 19, 2021 https://www.marthastewart.com/8170277/martha-stewart-nft-halloween-launch

22 “Gronk Super Bowl NFTs Score $1.6 Million in Ethereum at Auction” March 15, 2021 https://decrypt.co/61271/gronk-nfl-nfts-sell-for-millions-in-ethereum

23 “Nifty News: Tyson Fury’s NFT nets almost $1M, bad trip from Sushi, wine gets nifty …” July 21, 2021 https://cointelegraph.com/news/nifty-news-tyson-fury-s-nft-nets-almost-1m-bad-trip-from-sushi-wine-gets-nifty

24 “13 Celebrities Who Have Joined the NFT Crypto Art Craze” May 24, 2021 https://www.lofficielusa.com/pop-culture/celebrities-on-the-crypto-art-craze

25 “Tom Brady’s Autograph Platform Goes Retro With 8-Bit Simone Biles NFTs” November 17, 2021 https://decrypt.co/86233/tom-brady-autograph-nft-platform-simone-biles-8-bit-nfts

26 “Tom Brady Launching NFT Platform with Apple, DraftKings, Spotify Exec Advisors” April 7, 2021 https://decrypt.co/64223/tom-brady-is-launching-an-nft-platform

27 “Lionel Messi kicks off NFT ambitions with ‘Messiverse’ art collection” August 23, 2021 https://www.marketing-interactive.com/lionel-messi-kicks-off-nft-ambitions-with-messiverse-art-collection

28 “Lionel Messi NFT Sold for $1 million on Ethernity” August 25, 2021 https://dappradar.com/blog/lionel-messi-nft-sold-for-1-million-on-ethernity

29 “Celebs Are Aping Into NFTs—But Star Power Won’t Ensure Success, Says Artist Pplpleasr” November 19, 2021 https://decrypt.co/86482/celebrities-nfts-market-success-artist-pplpleasr

30 “Secondary Sales Shock for Celeb Musicians Making “Cash-Grab” NFT art” April 13, 2021 https://nfts.wtf/secondary-sales-shock-for-celeb-musicians-making-cash-grab-nft-art/

31 “Dapp Industry Overview: August 2021” September 2, 2021 https://dappradar.com/blog/dapp-industry-overview-august-2021

32 “Dapp Industry Report: Q3 2021 Overview” October 1, 2021 https://dappradar.com/blog/dapp-industry-report-q3-2021-overview

33 “Dapp Industry Overview: August 2021” September 2, 2021 https://dappradar.com/blog/dapp-industry-overview-august-2021

34 “Dapp Industry Report: Q3 2021 Overview” October 1, 2021 https://dappradar.com/blog/dapp-industry-report-q3-2021-overview

35 “‘Second Coming’ of NFTs and What Is Driving New Wave” September 7, 2021 https://www.coinspeaker.com/second-coming-nfts-new-wave/

36 “‘Second Coming’ of NFTs and What Is Driving New Wave” September 7, 2021 https://www.coinspeaker.com/second-coming-nfts-new-wave/