nft

I Teamed Up with Strangers to Bid For a $2 Million 'Ghxsts' NFT

We lost. We still made history.

On Sunday night, a Ghxsts NFT titled “Sirxn 0 - Bioluminescent Sirxn,” sold for 619.5 ETH, or $2 million dollars.

The bidding page, littered with anonymous names and exorbitant offers, tells the story. “siinamota” bids 100 ETH. A certain “PxinDAO” responds with double. Then, in the final minutes, all-out war: a 100 ETH raise from “TrunkDev,” another newcomer bid of 420 ETH from “honoraryape,” PxinDAO’s last stand at 590 ETH, and finally, TrunkDev’s nail in the coffin.

In many respects, this was not a typical auction. For starters, the sale was the highest of any non-generative NFT in over 30 days. But perhaps more peculiar was the bidder named “PxinDAO,” who was neither a single wealthy individual nor a well-endowed credit card company. It was the alias for an alliance of more than 100 community members who banded together to make a unified bid for the ages.

They even got me to join. I aped in, we fought, we lost. And it was a thrill unlike any other.

PxinDAO, pronounced “Pain DAO” with Ghxsts’ iconic stylization, is not formally a DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization. While a DAO is specifically run by rules encoded in smart contracts that members vote on, PxinDAO was a collaborative, “handmade” fund. NFT collectors “7CA” and “natfacts” spearheaded the project, and within six days, brought 111 internet strangers together. Knowing that “whales,” or wealthy collectors, would be bidding on the coveted Sirxn, they decided that number of owners also meant strength in numbers.

Path,” who placed the winning bid from the TrunkDev wallet, was that whale. When PxinDAO formed, he too was contacted about pooling funds, but politely declined: “Thanks for the invite here but I'll pass on bidding with the group, very much after it for myself,” he told PxinDAO.

When I spoke with PxinDAO members, they explained to me that they were largely a group of Ghxsts’ early collectors who could no longer match the price points on the secondary market. “I can’t go out and buy a Ghxst without taking every asset I’ve ever had in my life and liquidating it instantly,” Dorian, an early Ghxsts adopter, said.

Then, without missing a beat, he added, “But I didn’t come in because of that. I wanted to be part of the group — I wanted to be part of the story.”

For Ghxsts, community is everything. As late as 4 A.M. in the morning, you can find a cadre of collectors chatting about Sirxns and “Frxxt Lxxps” cereal boxes in the Discord’s “PxinGxng Podcast” channel. When I asked them what it meant to have lost the auction, “BIGDOG215” chimed in: “I just don’t accept that phrase, because it was a total win no matter what. Path belongs in our community, and he’s the one who got it. So it still stays with us.”

“And it was a win because [GxngYxng] got his recognition,” he added.

PxinDAO was not, as I had originally fantasized, a ragtag group of ETH-slingers teaming up to take down a wealthy crypto-villain hellbent on metaverse domination. In the auction’s final hour, all of PxinDAO and Path even greeted each other in a Discord voice chat, staying cool and cracking jokes.

When the project’s artist, GxngYxng, entered the NFT space in May, he set a tone for generosity with a $3 USD sale for Ghxst 001. 8 days later, the same NFT was resold for a then-whopping 3 ETH (the buyer’s name: Path.) GxngYxng has now seen total sales eclipse 5000 ETH on the secondary market, and while he receives royalties from these sales, Sirxn 0 is a milestone moment for a project that tries to leave value in the hands of owners.

Through it all, GxngYxng remains a self-proclaimed shy guy. But in the final moments of the auction, as the Discord voice chat filled with hundreds of his supporters, he unmuted his mic for the first time ever. “I think you guys are my family at this point,” he said.

If the Ghxsts discord is a family, then PxinDAO was the cookout. As natfacts explained to me, participants could throw in any amount of Ethereum to get a fractional share of the Sirxn. Because certain Ghxsts NFTs can be combined to create new, unique NFTs, an owner can combine a Sirxn to create pieces such as Mythxcals, Gxds, and a currently unfathomable Alixn/Sirxn hybrid. A PxinDAO member would then become a partial owner of those new NFTs; come with vegetables, leave with steak, potatoes, and meringue. For added security, the entire process is facilitated by a “multi-sig wallet” where 3 of 5 signatories, all doxxed to each other, must sign off on any given transaction.

After PxinDAO was outbid, members were given the option to withdraw their funds. Within 24 hours, natfacts had helped issue refunds for every single request. I withdrew my 0.1 ETH, which was actually the lowest amount contributed, but had given me the PxinDAO experience nonetheless.

In the wake of the historic auction, GxngYxng’s own attitude captures the optimism of his feverish community. “My heart is honestly glowing and my stomach is full of butterflies,” he told me. “Over the last four months, we’ve all grown closer together through the experiences and story of Ghxsts, growing as a group of strangers into close friends.”

In a statement posted to Twitter Thursday, he announced that he would use proceeds from the auction to start a scholarship for art students, working with the same art teacher who told him 10 years ago that his art style wouldn’t succeed.

Meanwhile, PxinDAO has packed up from its inaugural venture, but remains known as the “Creatxr Cxllab,” ready to take on the next opportunity requiring a giant pool of community ETH and passion. Its members are holding their heads high.

“Even near the end of the auction, as we faced certain defeat, there was joy,” 7CA said.

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