An NFT launch organized by Time Magazine fell apart on Thursday as scalper bots snatched up the collectibles.
Hours after the full supply was bought up, the lowest available price on the secondary market was around $9,500, a 30-times markup from the original price.
The massive sale also gunked up the overall ethereum network, sending "gas" fees soaring up to six times compared to Thursday morning levels.
The 4,676 NFTs, called "TimePieces," were each tied to a unique piece of digital art and came with subscription access to Time Magazine's website. Each TimePiece would be sold at around $310 in ether on a first-come-first-serve basis, but buyers were limited to 10 NFTs - in an attempt to stop bots from mass buying.
Yet that is exactly what happened. All NFTs were purchased in minutes as unlucky prospective buyers took to Twitter to complain about scalper bots. Hours after the full supply was bought up, the lowest available price on the secondary market was around $9,500, a 30-times markup from the original price, according to CoinDesk.
Because the ethereum blockchain lets bidders pay extra fees to cut in line, nearly all successful buyers in the minutes-long sale period paid huge fees, often well in excess of the original $310 price. One high-roller bought 10 TimePieces for around $3,000 - but paid over $60,000 in transaction and line-cutting fees.
The massive sale also gunked up the overall ethereum network, sending "gas" fees soaring up to six times compared to Thursday morning levels. Fees remained elevated for about an hour before falling as the bottleneck cleared.
In an interview with CoinDesk, Time president Keith Grossman - a crypto-curious exec who previously partnered with Grayscale for his magazine to invest in bitcoin - said that the episode was a big learning experience.
"We're going to make sure that the next time that we do this, everything that we have seen that went wrong or that didn't go as we planned, is fixed," said Grossman.
In August, Markets Insider created three NFTs of articles from iconic moments during this year's meme-stock explosion.
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