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FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. Source: A video screenshot, Youtube/HBO

US crypto exchange FTX opened its non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace on the Solana (SOL) blockchain last month, and now, Sam Bankman-Fried, the company’s founder, explains why he is not perplexed that the first piece sold through the service was a handwritten word “Test” that went for USD 720,000.

“Visual esthetics are not a thing that I understand,” Bankman-Fried told Axios on HBO. “Paintings, in general, aren’t worth. I actually don’t get it. I don’t, personally, understand the appeal of a Rembrandt painting. And when I see NFTs, a part of me is like: I don’t get the appeal of some of these. But a part is like: OK, I also don’t understand the appeal of the Mona Lisa, to be honest.”

The exchange’s founder claims that the NFTs’ value results from their value attributed to the pieces by their respective owners.

“I think they all look dumb to me, but they all look beautiful to other people, and I think that a lot of these NFTs mean a lot to the people buying them,” he said when asked about how a Leonardo Da Vinci painting relates to “somebody writing ‘Test’ as a JPEG.”

By launching its own NFT marketplace, FTX joined a growing pool of exchanges active in the sector. A similar project is underway at Coinbase which earlier this month unveiled that some 1m people registered for its forthcoming NFT platform in just one day.

FTX initially offered NFT minting for free, but decided to add a USD 500 paywall after being flooded with “a massive number of submissions,” most of which were spam representing identical images of a fish. After the move spurred online backlash, the exchange eventually set the fee at USD 10.
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