Indonesian student’s selfies fetch US$1 million in NFT sales

After learning about blockchain technology, Mr Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali decided to upload selfies to OpenSea. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM OPENSEA

SEMARANG (AFP, THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An Indonesian college student has become an Internet sensation after trade in the digital rights to his selfies fetched more than US$1 million (S$1.3 million) on a platform for non-fungible tokens (NFT).

Mr Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali, who studies computer science at a university in the central city of Semarang, has taken a picture of himself sitting in front of his computer almost every day for the last five years.

He intended to use the collection of nearly 1,000 selfies to create a timelapse video for his graduation day.

But after learning about blockchain technology, the 22-year-old decided to upload the photos to NFT trading platform OpenSea under the title “Ghozali Everyday”.

“I was thinking it might be funny if one of the collectors collected my face,” Mr Ghozali told reporters at his university’s campus on Thursday (Jan 13).

“I never thought anybody would want to buy the selfies, which is why I only priced them at $3,” he said.

But on Friday, one selfie was available for 0.247 of the cryptocurrency ether (S$1,086) after demand shot up.

NFTs have transformed digital items ranging from illustrations to memes into virtual collectors’ items that cannot be duplicated.

Mr Ghozali started to upload his selfies in late December, but it was not until a celebrity chef snapped some up last week and promoted Mr Ghozali on his social media account that sales took off.

In the next few days more than 400 people bought ownership of his expressionless photos.

As of Friday afternoon, Mr Ghozali’s collection had reached a total trade volume of 317 ether, equivalent to more than US$1 million.

“To be honest I still haven’t got the courage to tell my parents, they would be wondering where I got the money from,” Mr Ghozali laughed.

On his Twitter account, where he has more than 16,000 followers, the student often offers updates on his OpenSea statistics.

“Today (I) sold more than 230+ (selfies) and until now I don’t understand why you want to buy #NFT photos of me !!! but i thank you guys for 5 years of effort paid off,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

Mr Ghozali, who dreams of opening his own animation studio one day, said he plans to invest the money and will continue to take daily selfies until he finishes college.

In a message to his customers, Mr Ghozali said buyers are free to do anything they want with his selfies, except to abuse them in disrespectful ways.

"You can do anything (with my selfies) like flipping or whatever but please don't abuse my photos or my parents will very disappointed me. I believe in you guys so please take care of my photos," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.