Now, “Disaster Girl” really has something to laugh about. The beloved meme’s face, which shows a girl grinning maliciously at a camera as a house burns down behind her, sold a non-expendable token (NFT) of her original image for nearly half a million dollars.
Zoe Roth was four years old when her father, an amateur photographer, took the iconic photograph (showing local firefighters putting out a planned and controlled fire) in January 2005 and entered it in JPG magazine’s “Capturing Emotions” contest. The photo was also posted online on JPG’s website as part of the award, where it has since entered internet infamy as one of the most recurring social media memes. But even though young Roth’s face became a Photoshop favorite and her image was shared around the world, the family had no real means to monetize that – until now. Roth, now 21, is a senior at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She told the Raleigh News & Observer that someone recently emailed her suggesting that she try to take control of her image by selling it as an NFT, for a potential six-figure profit. At first he thought, “There is no way,” he told the newspaper. But she and her father did their research, including chatting with other viral meme topics like “The Too Attached Girlfriend” Laina Morris and the lanky school photography subject “Bad Luck Brian,” aka Kyle Craven. And they hired a lawyer and a manager to help them handle the logistics of uploading the file and “minting” the NFT. (A refresher: a non-fungible token is a certificate of ownership of a digital asset that is unique and is not intended to serve as a medium of exchange.) Related: What is an NFT? A Beeple NFT was just sold at Christie’s for nearly $ 70 million, highlighting the cryptocurrency craze Read more: ‘What the heck is an NFT?’ – Explain ‘SNL’ in an amazing rap parody. Simply put, they listed the “Disaster Girl” token on April 16 for a 24-hour auction. Roth expected it to be sold for 100 Ether, which is a cryptocurrency registered on the Ethereum blockchain that equates to around $ 2,200 per unit, on average. By the time the auction ended, a user named @ 3fmusic had bought the token for 180 Ether, worth around $ 430,000 at the time, and valued at over $ 470,000 before the time. (It should be noted that the value of Ether is volatile and can fluctuate minute by minute.) Roth and his father didn’t just put a lot of money into the original sale of their token. In coining the NFT, they have also coded it so that every time the NFT is bought, they receive 10% of the sale. “Being able to sell it just shows us that we have some kind of control, some kind of agency in the whole process,” Roth said. Some other recent NFT transactions making headlines include Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, which sold for $ 2.9 million; Kings of Leon Releases Exclusive NFT Album For Over $ 2 Million; and a 10-second digital collage that took 13 years to sell for $ 69 million at auction.