Q&A With ClubNFT CTO Chris King

I started ClubNFT to help collectors protect their NFT artwork if marketplaces shut down...

To restore your NFT, you need the perfect clone of your media files.

Q&A with Chris King, Co-Founder and CTO of ClubNFT

ClubNFT has gathered heavy hitters to realize its mission of delivering next-generation infrastructure solutions to discover, protect and share non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for digital artwork—and it all started with Jason Bailey recruiting CTO and Co-Founder Chris King, formerly of Google. Here, Chris shares why he joined forces with Jason to start the company, his vision for ClubNFT’s solutions and the NFT community, and more details about the first product, which allows collectors to safeguard their NFT investments by downloading the associated media in a single click.

Q: Why did you decide to join Jason Bailey in this endeavor?

A: I'm a tech guy, and I'm reasonably well connected, so pretty frequently I get people reaching out to me with an idea - they "just need someone to build it". What set this opportunity apart is that Jason came to me after many years as an NFT thought leader and community-builder with a real plan for solving real problems. I've been watching the blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFTs with interest for years, and this was my chance to do something important with a leader in the community who has a great vision and ethos.

Q: What draws you to the community’s zeitgeist?

A: The blockchain/NFT community values democratization and egalitarianism, which is attractive to me as a socially progressive guy. That attitude dovetails perfectly with what we’re building at ClubNFT: a way to level the playing field for all involved, and for lesser-known artists around the world to get compensated fairly. We’re interested in addressing important problems that can be solved with relatively straightforward products which will make a huge impact in the lives of the people in this community.

Q: What are some of the problems you are solving?

A: Once you start to learn a little bit about the blockchain, you see that collectors face a few glaring problems. The first one is the issue of IPFS. It’s a fantastic technology that solves a lot of things, like moving NFT artwork off the blockchain onto distributed storage. But it doesn't solve the problem that a lot of people assume that it does solve, which is the actual storage of the media files. IPFS is a discovery mechanism and a provability mechanism, but it doesn’t guarantee availability. It’s usually the marketplace that takes care of the digital art storage for the collector in the background—collectors are often unaware of this hidden dependency on a centralized company. If something goes awry, such as a technical outage or data loss, the collector can lose his or her masterpiece in an instant.

Q: How are you solving it?

A: People have been building big, wonderful technological contraptions and trying to shoehorn them in as a solution for this problem, but the problem itself is simple, and the solution can also be simple. If you aren't guaranteed that your file is going to always be available on IPFS, all you need to do is maintain your own copy of it, so you exercise full control over it. If it disappears from IPFS, you have everything you need to restore it to IPFS. This is the same “trustless” ethos that the whole blockchain was founded on. Instead of paying a company to host your artwork or relying on a third party, we are giving you the power to control it yourself. The way we’re approaching this problem is fully in the spirit of democratization and decentralization. That’s how and why the blockchain was created.

Q: Why can’t I just “right click + save” or use Python scripts or some other approach to downloading the digital artwork associated with my NFTs?

A: What we’re doing for collectors may sound simple, but it really is not, which is why we decided to put together a company with resources to solve problems like making it possible to restore digital artwork associated with NFTs. Simply downloading manually or hacking together a Python script is fraught with potential errors and pitfalls.

First off, NFTs come in all shapes and sizes. There are some that came before NFT standards were introduced, and some that are very experimental even today. So just figuring out what files you need to back up can be complicated. Sometimes you may need to remember to download the thumbnail image in the main image. There are non-standard NFTs that are partially on blockchain and on IPFS. There are NFTs that are recursive and point to all different kinds of content on IPFS. If any of the pieces go missing, or you can't figure out how to find one of them, your digital artwork is not complete and you're in danger of losing your investment. And this is only the start of the complexity involved. Collectors might not be aware that their browsers may compress the image or change its format during downloading, so it won’t be a bit-for-bit copy, for example.

When restoring a file to IPFS, you can't just fix a broken IPFS link by uploading a "pretty close" copy of the image. When you upload a file to IPFS, it creates a unique, cryptographic “hash,” or in layman’s terms, a very small, compressed version of the actual image. An IPFS link is made from this hash, it is not a "location" where you can just stick any old file. If even one bit changes in the file, it will generate a completely different link on IPFS. So if the content disappears, the collector can’t just replace it with something else. It’s a good thing, because you don’t want people to change things about that artwork after the fact, but this further emphasizes the need to preserve and store the actual image in the exact same format—bit for bit—so it can be restored.

Q: Why can’t people print out the artwork, or take a screenshot of the transaction and the artwork?

A: Yes, you can hang that printout of the artwork on your wall, or keep a screenshot of the transaction. However, the NFT can never be sold again without proof that there was and still is a pixel-perfect image associated with the NFT. The hash, and the proof that it is pointing to the content in its perfect form, is the only way to preserve the investment. We can’t stress it enough: the link from the NFT to the official digital artwork file is the only thing that makes it worth money. It’s just like if you own the Mona Lisa, lend the painting to a museum, and the museum burns down. Having taken a photo of the Mona Lisa, you cannot restore the Mona Lisa, even if you still have your certificate of ownership.  We are giving you a Star Trek style replicator that makes sure that you have a perfect clone of the original Mona Lisa. So, if anything should happen to it, you still have your Mona Lisa.

Q: Where is the media stored? What type of storage do you use?

A: We don’t do storage. We do “restore-age” for free. Collectors can store their digital artwork files on Google Drive, on a hard drive, write them to a CD and stick that in a safety deposit box, whatever. "Storage" is wherever the collector chooses. At its most basic, it’s about decentralization, controlling your own stuff, and not being at the whim of a third party.

Q: Why can’t people just insure their NFTs?

A: There is no NFT insurance, and from what we’ve been told by folks in the insurance industry, there most likely will not be any for a long time, given the newness and complexity of the NFT space. We provide assurance because there is no insurance.

Q: Is this just for a specific marketplace or blockchain?

A: No. We recognize that the whole system is fragmented - there are a lot of different chains and marketplaces. We are building solutions to fix problems for everyone so our goal is to be completely agnostic. We want to build tools that work no matter where you bought your NFT—which blockchain, marketplace, or project. That causes more technical difficulty and competing standards to support and so on, but we’re up to the task and committed to making solutions that everyone can use. To start with, we are supporting some of the most important blockchains for NFT collectors, but we are committed to adding support for additional chains to make sure nobody gets left behind.

Q: What do you see as the future?

A: I’m excited about this space, and about what we're doing. We’re starting simple: by making it easy for collectors to protect their NFTs with bit-for-bit copies of their art. That’s just the first step - next up, we’re looking to solve collectors' problems around discovery, collection/portfolio management, and more. I’m thrilled to be working with some of the best people in the space to tackle these issues!

How ClubNFT & Infura helped protect artists and collectors from losing their work with IPFS

At ClubNFT, we’re all about putting control of NFTs and the associated media files in the hands of collectors rather than relying on centralized services...

At ClubNFT, we’re all about putting control of NFTs and the associated media files in the hands of collectors rather than relying on centralized services to protect their NFT investments. We’re not alone in this. The blockchain and NFT communities were founded on the principles of decentralization and independence from the very beginning.

The risks of relying on centralized services got real (even surreal) on November 12, when founder Rafael Lima’s Hic et Nunc (HEN) shut down with no notice or explanation, merely changing its Twitter bio to say “discontinued”. Given that HEN was among the largest and most active NFT platforms, a lot of people understandably panicked. Artists thought their livelihoods were in peril and thousands of collectors worried about their NFTs.

We knew that without clear assurances about whether HEN would continue paying to pin the NFT media on IPFS, collectors’ NFTs were in danger. We felt the right thing to do was to pin all the NFT content from the discontinued marketplace ourselves. We immediately contacted Infura, the original pinning service for all the NFT content on HEN, to work together to save these NFTs. We were able to establish an account quickly and began a massive effort to pin all the HEN NFT content.

Due to the complexities of pinning, IPFS, and other factors, we knew we had to engage our engineering resources and work directly with the Infura engineers to re-pin the content. Once Protocol Labs and NFT.storage read our post about our work, they reached out to us with generous offers of assistance, both technical support and a grant to help cover the costs. While we did not take them up on the grant, their technical assistance has been and will continue to be incredibly valuable as we build out a longer-term solution for NFT collectors.

How We Did It

To start the pinning process, we found the list of CIDs for NFTs from HEN via https://hicdex.com/, the free community tool created by twitter.com/marchingsquare that powered HEN and allows people to query the state of the HEN index. Please note that they have a donation tool on their site and we encourage people to donate to keep great work like this alive!

For those technically inclined, here’s the query we used to discover the right CIDs:

query AllCids($token: bigint = "") {

 hic_et_nunc_token_aggregate {

   nodes {








We identified almost 1.5 million unique CIDs — pointers to approximately 4TB of data — belonging to about 530,000 NFTs from HEN. Here is the full list of CIDs we captured early on November 12. This has already been downloaded by folks in the community hundreds of times since we posted it on Twitter. We are glad the community has been so active in putting together additional pinning efforts to truly decentralize this content, we hope this list has been helpful!

We leveraged a tool Infura created to help pin large amounts of content. In the process, we made several modifications to the tool to support the kind of workflow necessary for such a gargantuan undertaking. We plan to contribute these improvements back to the public repository in the coming days. Infura's engineering team immediately jumped on and worked directly with us to lift rate limit restrictions, which allowed us to pin these files even faster. By working directly with Infura, we were able to secure the NFTs’ IPFS content, leveraging Infura’s internal backups to restore hard-to-find IPFS content in record time. It’s another example of the community working together to make the world of NFTs better for everyone.

Not every CID associated with every HEN NFT was recoverable - some have been lost over time, though our investigation indicates this is probably not specifically due to the shutdown. It is possible they were never successfully pinned, or were an early attempt at HEN running a self-hosted IPFS node, never having been pinned to a secure and reliable platform like Infura. Research by a community member indicates that some of these "missing" files actually belonged to NFTs which were placed on HEN's blacklist for copyminting, and some belonged to NFTs minted by artists via their own scripts outside of HEN, bypassing Infura entirely. The current list of CIDs that have disappeared for any or all of these reasons, and which we have been unable to recover, can be found here. Even without a marketplace shutdown, content can disappear from IPFS forever - due to user error, marketplace error, editorial decisions, or any number of factors - which is why we are focused on helping collectors protect their NFTs no matter what happens.

The Whole Community Stepped Up

We were only a small part of the overall effort to save HEN. While we acted fast to protect the IPFS content, hundreds of people have been working hard to provide additional backups of the content, host mirrors of the marketplace, fix potential contract vulnerabilities, make improvements for longer-term decentralized control of the marketplace, and more. There have been several major efforts to save HEN and the content associated with the NFTs, including:

- DNS.xyz created a mirror of the marketplace at hicetnunc.art, which they ultimately donated back to the community after gathering some community feedback. They also pinned the CIDs via Pinata, further contributing to the decentralization of the HEN IPFS content. They completed these efforts on the 16th and posted some excellent technical details in this blog post.

- Manticor (developer of TezTools - please consider donating to teztools.tez to support the project), CodeCrafting, and others are long-time community contributors who have been core to getting a solution in place, assisting many teams with their efforts.

- UFFFD is another core part of the HEN community who has been on the front lines of both putting out the fires and guiding the longer-term direction of the community post-HEN. When this first happened, many people looked to UFFFD for guidance, and they provided some excellent advice and a clear status to reassure worried collectors.

- Folks in the community quickly set up new community-owned Discord and Twitter accounts to organize a longer-term path forward for the community.

- Lots of individual collectors have been using NFTBiker's tools to back up their own HEN collections to other pinning services.

- Objkt.com has been backing up H=N based NFTs for some time (@NFTProtector and @Oktuorg) as part of their own marketplace.

- NFT.storage used the CID list to also store all HEN NFTs in long-term Filecoin deals with storage providers around the world (surpassing 13M NFTs stored!)

And many, many others. Please reach out to us if you were part of an effort you think should be mentioned here and we will be happy to include it in this post!

A Final Word

This whole experience is a testament to how quickly we can move this space forward and make it better when we all work together as a community. For example, we are looking forward to working closely with Protocol Labs to help solve the problem of long-term persistence in a more permanent way. As a side note, they have been working on their own with the CIDs we provided them to back things up in an even more decentralized way via NFT.storage. All of this is great news, because the more places the NFTs are backed up, the more secure they are.

Some people had some harsh words for Rafael Lima during this tense time, while overlooking the fact that he cooperated with the community to resolve some concerns around contract fees and has not gotten in the way of the efforts to mirror HEN. Others have criticized some efforts to provide replacement marketplaces for HEN for various reasons. While we have no horse in the marketplace race, we believe any and all efforts to preserve this unique marketplace and its community are helpful. There is now a "marketplace of marketplaces" for HEN content, and some variety and competition will be healthy to keep everyone innovating.

Our first goal is to give collectors a way to protect their own digital artwork and their NFT investments. In the meantime, we were happy to partner with Infura, Protocol Labs, and others to make sure that the HEN NFTs were safe. We are stunned that so many people in the community contributed to our efforts and others, and think this is an excellent example of the strength and resiliency of the NFT community.

You can sign up and learn more about what we are building and how it will protect collectors in the future at clubnft.com.

Basic Guide to NFTs and IPFS

An NFT, in relation to art and collectibles, is a token containing information stored on the blockchain about the asset (image, video, etc) that a collector has purchased...

What Exactly Is An NFT?

An NFT, in relation to art and collectibles, is a token containing information stored on the blockchain about the asset (image, video, etc) that a collector has purchased. With few exceptions, the NFT contains a link to a file location where the underlying artwork file (image, video, etc) is stored.

What does it mean to say your NFT is stored “On Chain” versus “Off Chain”?

An NFT, in relation to art and collectibles, is a token containing information stored on the blockchain about the asset (image, video, etc) that a collector has purchased. With few exceptions, the NFT contains a link to a file location where the underlying artwork file (image, video, etc) is stored.

What does it mean to say your NFT is stored “On Chain” versus “Off Chain”?

In rare cases, an NFT can truly be said to be stored entirely on the blockchain (“on chain”.) This is the case, for example, for NFTs that are generated from small bits of code, such as autoglyphs. However, the artwork associated with the vast majority of NFTs is stored off-chain, typically either on a server using the IPFS protocol or a centralized server like AWS.  

Why aren’t the underlying NFT files themselves stored on chain?

The blockchain is not efficient at storing even relatively small files. Some recent estimates put the cost of storage on the Ethereum blockchain at $17,100 per 1MB of data. Even a short video of 10 seconds can easily require 15-20MB of storage, so it’s not hard to see why on-chain storage of assets is cost-prohibitive.

What is IPFS and why use it?

IPFS is a decentralized (peer-to-peer) solution for finding content stored on servers called IPFS nodes. IPFS itself is not a storage system like AWS, but rather a protocol for finding files stored on individual (distributed) storage devices running the IPFS protocol.

There are a number of advantages to storing NFT files using IPFS:

- The content stored using the IPFS protocol (whether JPEG, video file, music file, etc) cannot be altered in any way. It can only be the exact artwork the collector purchased, or nothing.

- The file can be restored by anyone possessing the exact original version of the file.  In practice, no one cares more about a given NFT than the owner, so the owner would be the most likely person to restore it.

- Because IPFS is decentralized, this eliminates the risk of a single centralized storage provider going out of business with the resulting loss of all stored files.

Why not store your NFT assets on the web?

Storing any file in the cloud (e.g. AWS) or some individual’s web server represents a centralized model of storage.  Centralization refers to the fact that a single entity or person controls all aspects of storage, including access and maintenance.

Remember that an NFT is not the actual image or video file associated with the artwork, but rather a token containing a link pointing to where the artwork is stored. If the artwork itself is stored on some individual’s web server, and if that individual decides to shut down the server or swap in a different image, the NFT may either end up pointing to nothing or to some other file (not the artwork the collector purchased!). The collector has no control over the fate of their NFTs in this scenario.

While storing files on a service like AWS seems less risky, the NFT owner nevertheless is still dependent on a 3rd party to pay AWS storage fees to maintain the files. If whoever is responsible for paying those fees fails to do so, your stored files may disappear. There have been a number of instances of NFT marketplaces going out of business and leaving storage fees unpaid, with the resulting loss of huge numbers of NFT artwork files.

With IPFS, anyone possessing the exact original art file can ensure that the NFT is linking to it, thus securing the value and integrity of the NFT.

Why You Should Download Your NFT Files

As noted above, the IPFS protocol ensures that at the file location denoted by your NFT, only the exact image you purchased will be found, or the location will be empty. We believe it is ultimately the collector’s responsibility to ensure that the purchased image is what is found at the location.

As long as the collector downloads the correct art file related to his or her NFT purchase, along with some file parameters required to successfully reupload via the IPFS protocol, then the collector can ensure this artwork never disappears from IPFS.

Note that if NFT artwork is stored on some individual’s web server, then downloading the files becomes meaningless. If the web server goes down, or the owner of the service swaps in a different file, the NFT owner has no say in the matter.

In short, if you aren’t downloading your NFT artwork files, then you aren’t making use of the power of IPFS, and you might as well use a centralized service, with its associated drawbacks.  Why bother purchasing NFTs if you aren’t going to have provable ownership and protection around your assets.

Can’t I Just Use A Pinning Service Or Other Forever-Storage Solution To Store My NFT Files Instead of downloading them?

Pinning services such as Pinata and Infura are companies that collectors pay to host their NFT artwork. These services will run IPFS nodes and make sure your files are available through the IPFS protocol. Other decentralized storage solutions, such as Arweave and Filecoin, also provide mechanisms for storing and pinning your NFT artwork.

One issue with all such services is that collectors are now paying a recurring or lifetime storage charge for their NFT artwork, a sort of tax in addition to the cost of acquiring the NFT.

We believe the bigger issue at stake is the notion that the collector is still relying on some other entity (ie a pinning service or decentralized storage platform) to ensure their artwork remains secure on IPFS. There is no guarantee that these services will not suffer some sort of outage or other technical calamity, or that the service will even remain in business, and we believe collectors should still download their artwork files as the ultimate assurance. Even if a pinning service disappeared overnight, a collector who had the foresight to download their files could simply run an IPFS node and make the file immediately available again.

If a collector chooses to only rely on a pinning or storage service, he/she still needs a mechanism to pull together dozens or maybe hundreds of NFT artwork files, along with the associated upload parameters, so that the artwork can then be pinned to IPFS.

Can’t I Just Right-Click-Save-As To Download My NFT Artwork?

The short answer is ‘no.’ Due to the nature of the IPFS protocol, in order to successfully upload a file to the address referenced by the NFT, the collector must have both an exact copy of the original file, and, importantly, some specific upload parameters which IPFS requires. The ClubNFT download service provides both the exact, original artwork file, as well as these parameters.

A Quick Summary Of Key Points

IPFS is a decentralized solution for finding content (your NFT artwork in this case), and prevents this content from being altered.

The value of having NFT artwork stored via the IPFS protocol is to both prevent inadvertent or intentional alteration of the original artwork, and also to avoid having a single point of storage failure due to centralization.

The benefit of downloading NFT artwork is that an NFT collector becomes completely self-reliant. Regardless of what happens to a pinning service, distributed storage solution, or AWS server, the collector will always be able to restore his or her valuable artwork.

ClubNFT Agrees to Pay to Pin All NFT Content From Discontinued Hic et Nunc Marketplace

I started ClubNFT to help collectors protect their NFT artwork if marketplaces shut down...

I started ClubNFT to help collectors protect their NFT artwork if marketplaces shut down. This week, the wildly popular Hic et Nunc (HEN) marketplace announced they are “discontinued.” In keeping with the mission of our company, we have decided to pay the pinning fees for all 500K+ NFTs minted on HEN until our product is available for collectors to use to protect their art themselves.

The details of what exactly is happening with HEN are foggy at best. In any case, we are not here to do a postmortem - there will be plenty of that in the days to come. I love this community, and the fastest way for us to give artists and collectors alike the reassurance that they are covered is simply for us to bite the bullet and pick up the tab ourselves to make sure the off-chain assets (the art itself) associated with your collections don’t disappear.

We have been speaking with HEN's pinning service, Infura.io, and we have agreed to pay for  HEN's pinning contract. Every single HEN minted artwork that HEN was pinning through Infura will be covered - collectors and artists don't need to panic. We are thrilled to be partnering with the great folks at Infura who have been working with us around the clock to ensure the safety of these artworks.

We acknowledge that others in the community are likely working through ways to assist in making sure the NFTs are protected, and we salute you and welcome any and all assistance. This is a community and we can all play a role, but we feel we are in a unique position to immediately lay to rest any concerns. As a team, we unanimously decided this was the right thing to do. Some people are running clones of the HEN website to give collectors the ability to adjust their swaps, and other marketplaces already support buying and selling HEN NFTs. Now, with this reassurance regarding the hosting of the NFT media, we are confident the HEN community will not just survive, but continue to thrive.

I lost many of the early NFTs I bought in 2017-2018 when marketplaces went out of business. Some of those would likely be worth millions of dollars in today’s market.  It’s a horrible feeling - one that I don’t want any other collector or artist to experience. You can sign up and learn more about what we are building and how it will protect collectors in the future at clubnft.com.

The Trillion Byte Let-Down

On November 18th, Geoffrey Huntley announced to the world that, over a period of just 3 days, he had downloaded all of the media content for every NFT on Ethereum and Solana...

On November 18th, Geoffrey Huntley announced to the world that, over a period of just 3 days, he had downloaded all of the media content for every NFT on Ethereum and Solana, and was releasing a torrent containing all this media so everyone can "steal" every NFT on these blockchains. He created a parody of The Pirate Bay called The NFT Bay, linking to this torrent for everyone to download. We at ClubNFT were pretty impressed if true, because 3 days to download all this media would be quite the feat - obtaining all the data from IPFS to re-pin the Hic et Nunc media, which was only 4TB, was pretty involved, and we have been working on IPFS & NFT for a long time.

Vice, Bloomberg, Business Insider, The Verge, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, and many others picked up the story and it made quite a storm on Twitter. The crux of every story was the idea that this "artist has stolen all the NFTs". By that, they mean that Geoff has done what he asserted in his Twitter posts, on the website, and in the torrent's description: Right-click-saved all the media for every NFT on Ethereum and Solana. If Geoff had not done that, then this would be just another NFT skeptic expressing some concerns. Many of the articles are careful to point out "we have not verified the contents of the torrent," because of course they couldn't. A 20TB torrent would take several days to download, necessitating a pretty beefy internet connection and more disk space to store than most people have at their disposal. We at ClubNFT fired up a massive AWS instance with 40TB of EBS disk space to attempt to download this, with a cost estimate of $10k-20k over the next month, as we saw this torrent as potentially an easy way to pre-seed our NFT storage efforts - not many people have these resources to devote to a single news story.

Fortunately, we can save you the trouble of downloading the entire torrent - all you need is about 10GB. Download the first 10GB of the torrent, plus the last block, and you can fill in all the rest with zeroes. In other words, it's empty; and no, Geoff did not actually download all the NFTs. Ironically, Geoff has archived all of the media articles about this and linked them on TheNFTBay's site, presumably to preserve an immutable record of the spread and success of his campaign - kinda like an NFT.

Edit: After publication of this post, Reddit user Constellation16 reached out to us with some further analysis. tl;dr it appears that the 10GB of “data” is nothing of value and the Torrent really is effectively empty.

So What?

Geoff raised several points about NFTs which provide an excellent educational opportunity. So many people who are new to this space, or who are considering entering this space, are not really sure what an NFT actually is. Some are piling into this space with dollar signs in their eyes, fueled by FOMO (fear of missing out), and falling victim to scams and pump & dump schemes.

What is an NFT?

An NFT is a token on a blockchain which is unique and self-describing. That means that the NFT itself, and the contract which created it, describes what it is, what it does, and how it can be traded. The blockchain itself tracks the ownership of that token, and allows you to execute transactions with it - buying it, selling it, trading it, or in some cases modifying it. For art & collectible NFTs, the token usually contains a link pointing to an image, video, or other media file. Similar to how a deed conveys ownership of a house at some address, the token conveys a sense of “ownership” (outlined below), of that media. Just like you can invite a neighbor over to visit your house, and a car driving by can take a photo of your house, anybody can view the media associated with your NFT. Indeed, anybody can download that media and watch it on their computer or mobile device at any time.

So Why Bother Owning an NFT?

Being able to view the Mona Lisa in a gallery does nothing to reduce the value of that painting - if anything, the fact that so many people want to view it increases its value. Snapping a photo of the Mona Lisa, or spending years learning Leonardo da Vinci's painting technique so you can produce a perfect reproduction of it, does nothing to reduce the value of the original Mona Lisa (and your reproduction likely has very little value as well). That's because the value of art, beyond its aesthetic qualities, is in the provenance and story around that art. The fact that Leonardo da Vinci created that one, particular painting hanging in the Louvre is 99% of what makes it valuable. The story of how that art has changed hands over the centuries adds to that value.

The blockchain is a way to track the provenance and story of digital media via NFTs, in much the same way a catalogue raisonne tracks that story for famous works by famous artists. The value of an NFT is in having the right to insert yourself into that story, as the owner of that work, and with the ability to transfer that right to another person (i.e. selling the work). The same way purchasing a painting gives you the right to resell that painting and prove to others that you are the owner, but does not necessarily convey copyright or other rights (unless worked out separately via a contract), purchasing an NFT gives you the right to resell that NFT and prove to others that you are the owner.

The real value of an NFT, in other words, comes from the artist who created it. Sometimes that's one person, sometimes it is a project with multiple people working on it. One of the most important questions a collector should ask themselves before buying an NFT is, "Who created this?" followed closely by "Should I care what this person produces?" A good way to get an answer to the second question is by learning about the NFT community - see what well known collectors, artists, and curators think of an artist or a project, and go from there. When you see a small community trying to hype an NFT or a project, be wary - see if anybody outside of that group has anything good to say about it. Just like a con man can easily surround himself with friends who holler and cheer at fake wins playing three-card-monty, a small group can easily create hype around a scammy project. This issue exists everywhere in life, and is not specific to NFTs.

What About the JPEG?

As mentioned above, the token (stored and tracked on the blockchain) usually does NOT contain the image or video file itself - it points to that media, living somewhere else, via a URI. Sometimes this media lives on some random website, or on cloud storage like AWS or Google. These NFTs are a little risky - the owner of that website or cloud storage can choose to change or delete that image, effectively changing the NFT out from under the owner. However, most NFTs either store the media on IPFS, or contain code on the blockchain to generate that image in a way that cannot be changed.

IPFS is a fantastic tool that gives us assurance that the media cannot be changed out from underneath the owner of an NFT - it is unchanging forever. However, IPFS has its own issues - it does not guarantee that the media will always be available. Someone, somewhere, has to actually own a hard drive containing that image, and make it available to the IPFS network. Usually, that person is actually the marketplace where the NFT was minted. However, many of us in the NFT community don't like relying on third parties to protect our NFTs, and would rather secure this data ourselves. That's why we founded ClubNFT - to help collectors take control of their NFT media.

We Were Hoping This Was Real

ince many of us worry about the safety of the NFT media hosted on IPFS by various third parties, many people in the community were hoping that this torrent really did contain all of the Ethereum and Solana NFTs. We could download this data and back it up somewhere, removing the worry about it disappearing from IPFS. As made clear above, downloading the media does nothing to change the ownership of the NFTs - it is effectively a public service you are providing, helping the actual owner to be sure their NFT media would be recoverable in the future.

Unfortunately, it is actually rather complicated to correctly download and secure the media for even a single NFT, nevermind trying to do it for every NFT ever made. This is why we were initially skeptical of Geoff's statements. But even if he had actually downloaded all the NFT media and made it available as a torrent, this would not have solved the problem.

First, it is well beyond most collectors' resources to download and store a 20TB file containing every single NFT. Most collectors would be happy just protecting the NFTs they actually own.

Second, a torrent is unchanging over time. Even if this would be valuable as a snapshot of all the NFTs at a given point in time, it is important that tools be developed to help secure all future NFTs, as well as older NFTs that were perhaps too complicated to figure out how to secure initially.

Third, a torrent containing all the NFTs does nothing to actually make those NFTs available via IPFS, which is the network they must be present on in order for the NFTs to be visible on marketplaces and galleries.

Fourth, and this is a bit in the weeds, in order to reupload an NFT's media to IPFS, you need more than just the media itself. In order to restore a file to IPFS so it can continue to be located by the original link embedded in the NFT, you must know exactly the settings used when that file was originally uploaded, and potentially even the exact version of the IPFS software used for the upload.

For these reasons and more, ClubNFT is working hard on an actual solution to ensure that everybody's NFTs can be safely secured by the collectors themselves. We look forward to providing more educational resources on these and other topics, and welcome the attention that others, like Geoff, bring to these important issues.