Vignesh Sundaresan was given the moniker “Metakovan” by his mother when he described to her what he really does for a living. Metakovan, which means “meta-king” in Tamil, is an apt title for a man who makes all his money and keeps all his belongings in the “meta” or virtual world.
Last December, the meta-king started Metapurse, a crypto-asset investment fund to fractionalize and sell his virtual assets as newly-created B.20 tokens. His B.20 bundle can be bought out by anyone, with a minimum bid of $12 million, in which case all B.20 holders will receive the proceeds, pro-rata.
Together with Metapurse’s curator Anand Venkateswaran, aka Twobadour, Metakovan plans to build a virtual monument to display the Beeple art piece and attract more B20 buyers. Metapurse had its B.20 museum debut this January in Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, and Somnium Space, becoming the top dog of virtual NFT museums.
Metapurse uses the virtual museum, constructed by Voxel Architects, to pitch B20 tokens to investors as public digital art projects that will allow “token holders everywhere to share in a valuable piece of history. And in the process, create wealth for the entire community.”
Lacking the money to buy a laptop growing up, Vignesh would use a USB to store all his files, which he would access on borrowed laptops. Now, as the owner of the most expensive digital artwork, he unmasked his identity in a blog which also revealed his motivation for purchasing Everydays. “The point was to show Indians and people of color that they, too, could be patrons, that crypto was an equalizing power between the West and the Rest, and that the global south was rising.”
Sundaresan, an early Bitcoin adopter who gradually made his fortune with well-timed investments in cryptocurrencies and ventures, currently lives in Singapore and owns no cars or houses. He says that the fact that he holds all his wealth in crypto is proof of how much he believes in it.
The Metapurse fund was started when he met Venkateswaran. The two began buying NFTs with the billion dollars worth of cryptocurrencies Metakovan had accumulated over the years. If nothing else, Metapurse has proved to be a brilliant way to liquidate the great wealth that was just sitting in his computer. While his success in funding the purchase of NFTs is a testament to the ever-increasing investment power of cryptocurrencies.
On the Flipside
Ben Davis, an American art critic, recently visited Metapurse’s B20 art museum and felt it was an aggressive pitch for money. “The actual effect is less like exploring some kind of exciting technological reinvention of the art experience and more like walking around an abandoned marketing kiosk at a cryptocurrency convention after the crowds have moved on.” According to Davis, the virtual exhibition was sub-par because it violated the basic rules of good exhibition space, with a network of narrow, dead-end corridors.
NFTs have recently come under scrutiny for facilitating money laundering. Trade-based money laundering has been an old problem in the art world, where illegal proceeds would be legitimized by passing them through transactions like art sales. NFTs are similar to art, with even more erratic pricing, and this is precisely the type of opportunity that is attractive to a launderer.
Setting up a false price history for NFTs is easy because one person can transfer the token between several wallets anonymously, imitating several sales between multiple buyers and sellers. This is similar to cross trading and wash trading, which are considered to be market manipulations and are illegal.
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