It's no secret that billionaire Elon Musk loves memes. He frequently reposts them on Twitter, where he has 61 million followers.
Though some dislike his reposting, as he often neglects to give the original meme creators credit, others have profited from Musk's practice, including self-proclaimed "hobby artist" Eva Beylin.
Even though Musk didn't give her any attribution, "I am over the moon," she says, adding that she's a big fan of Musk.
Beylin's meme, which she named "Love in The Time of Web3," depicts a cartoon couple admiring the prices of bitcoin and ether, which are $69,000 and $4,200, respectively, in the meme. While the price of bitcoin hasn't hit $69,000, the numbers are an obvious nod to meme culture.
As the director of The Graph Foundation, which supports blockchain data protocol The Graph, Beylin is passionate about Web3, which is the decentralized iteration of the internet that powers blockchain-based applications like NFTs.
"Love in The Time of Web3" got a lot of attention following Musk's tweet. That night, Beylin listed it as an NFT, or nonfungible token, on marketplace Zora, and two days later, it sold for five wrapped ether, which is about $19,800 at current pricing, to an anonymous buyer.
"It is surreal," Beylin says.
Though it was Beylin's idea to create the meme, she did not design the image of the cartoon couple or edit the prices of bitcoin and ether.
Beylin was inspired to create the meme after seeing a post by another Twitter user who edited the cryptocurrency prices and tweeted it as a joke.
To compensate the user, who is known as @shegenerates, Beylin gave her 20% of the proceeds from the NFT sale. Shegenerates was fine with Beylin using her edit, she tells CNBC Make It.
"Personally, I have [Musk] blocked on Twitter, so I only saw it after Eva [Beylin] posted about him sharing it. I wish I got all those likes myself because I can only imagine how much serotonin my brain would make with all that attention, but memes are permissionless, so it's just cool to see things I shared around," Shegenerates says.
Beylin doesn't know the creator of the image depicting the cartoon couple. And because of the legal gray area that NFTs exist in, it's not clear whether the use of this image infringes on any potential copyright laws.
With her cut of the sale, Beylin plans to reinvest in other artists by buying their NFTs.
"As a hobby artist, I'd never be able to reinvest in art or have my art paid for [without NFTs]. So, my thing has always been reinvesting back into NFTs," she says.
The buyer of "Love in The Time of Web3" has already relisted the meme for 69.42 wrapped ether, or about $275,000. Though it's less than the buyer's asking price, a bidder already offered 6.94 wrapped ether, or about $27,500, for the meme.
If it resells, Beylin will earn a 15% royalty, she says.
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