Meet the Mysterious NFT Whale Who Drops $100K on Fake Cars

In brief

  • In 2019, an anonymous bidder paid $111,111 for a virtual race car called the “1-1-1.”
  • Earlier this week, he half-revealed himself, using the pseudonym Metakovan.
  • So why’d he do it? He broke it down for Decrypt in an interview.

Earlier this week, we were introduced to the mysterious, anonymous purchaser of likely the most expensive fake race car ever sold.

He’d purchased the car last May for more than $110,000, at public auction, as a playable item in a blockchain-based video game called F1 Delta Time

Evidently, the extravagant purchase was a pretty big deal within the niche world of crypto gaming and collectibles—and people within this community were starting to ask questions about just who would spend that kind of scratch on a virtual car. That mystery was solved when the buyer decided to come forward, albeit under a name as fake as the car: “Metakovan.”

According to the website that showcases his portfolio, Metakovan is a major investor in NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. These are items on the blockchain that can’t be reproduced, and so have value as collectibles. Unlike, say, a Bitcoin, which is fungible (any Bitcoin is interchangeable with any other Bitcoin, and has the same value), these tokens are one-of-one.

Decrypt spoke to Metakovan over email to better understand why anyone would spend money that could get you a real car (and a very expensive one, at that) on a fake car. 

“Think about it,” he said. “This car is the first of its kind, and indestructible. There’s something special about that ‘first’ car. Like being able to own the first ever Ford Model A.”

In other words, for the pseudonymous NFT investor, it’s a little bit like owning a piece of history.

“The difference here is,” Metakovan told Decrypt, “we’re talking about the first in-game, official F1 car. I believe that this is one of the best collectibles ever. The kind that would pay for itself over and again.”

When asked if he expected the value of the car to appreciate over time, Metakovan said that “you need to look at it like art in the real world,” in that there’s inherent value for the collector that goes beyond the question of money: “For a very long time, I don’t intend to give it away. I will hold on to it for as long as I can. However, this is a non-fungible token, which means it, or more importantly its story, can’t be replicated.”

But the car isn’t “just a showpiece,” said the mysterious NFT whale. It has the potential to earn money in F1 Delta Time races on the blockchain, since the top racers on the game’s leaderboard are awarded a certain amount of ETH each week. In a podcast interview, Metakovan admitted that actually hasn’t used the car yet—but if he does decide to start racing it, the car’s stats will get him something of a head start: “So either way, the value of the car will grow over time.”

Most NFT investors are not only buying into individual assets, but also into the broader concept of the “metaverse”—a digital layer sitting on top of the real world, accessible via augmented reality apps and virtual reality hardware (think: Oculus Rift). Virtual communities like Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, and The Sandbox are already dedicated to this sort of thing, and act as hubs for purchased NFTs.

Metakovan likened it to the science fiction worlds envisioned in Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash, or Ready Player One, the Spielberg film. “There is already virtual real estate in our daily lives. How valuable is the banner on Netflix’s home page, or the top third of a google search? In Decentraland, Cryptovoxels or Sandbox, you are literally filling those spots in three dimensions.”

Metakovan also revealed that while $111,111 is the most he’s paid for an NFT at public auction, he’s paid “much more” for another one, via private sale. “I don’t believe there is really an upper limit to how much one would pay,” he told us via email. 

“I would not pay too much for a story I don’t find interesting, for an NFT that is not very unique. But I believe there will be someone who creates a very unique NFT, something that captures imagination. I’ll be there for that auction.”

Decentraland, probably the most well-known of the current metaverse platforms, has over 20,000 users—the more people get on board, the closer investors like Metakovan come to the big payoffs they’re envisioning.