A Law Professor Made $65,000 Selling NFTs. Here’s How. – Business Insider | NFTRADIUS

  • Brian Frye says NFTs might seem worthless but they are a misunderstood art form.
  • The University of Kentucky law professor made over $30,000 selling tokens of academic articles.
  • He calls the Securities and Exchange Commission his “stooge,” the butt of the joke.

For most law professors, publishing a paper in a law review is serious and slow.  

Brian Frye, a law professor at the University of Kentucky, has taken a different route. He churns out law-review papers as conceptual art. One is an homage to Yoko Ono. Another is erotic. In several of them, he defends plagiarism. But what’s unusual is what he’s doing with his papers: selling them as nonfungible tokens.

“I saw a business opportunity,” Frye said. “No one else was filling that niche, and why not?”

His first NFT got an offer of $30. His latest collection sold for $15,000.

One of Frye’s first works to get mainstream buzz was a 2019 Creighton Law Review article called “SEC No-Action Letter Request.” Frye said that his paper was a work of art and that it should also be considered a security under the standards the Securities and Exchange Commission uses for cryptocurrencies.

Last year, Frye submitted the no-action request. The SEC never responded. So he filed a Freedom of Information Act request for information. It was denied. Frye wrote, “The artwork was complete.”

In March, he created an NFT version on the website OpenSea. The first offer was about $30, he said, less than the transaction cost. But it finally sold last month for much more. Sam Hart, a collector, offered Frye 0.5 ethers, worth about $2,000 at the time.

He “felt this was a fun way to poke at the crypto industry’s tension with securities regulation,” Hart said. He said he came up with the price by multiplying the cost of minting an NFT by an arbitrary amount to acknowledge Frye’s ingenuity.

Frye had previously sold an NFT of an image of the Brooklyn Bridge for $100 and made a few other small-dollar sales, but he was emboldened by the sale to Hart.

He took a paper he published earlier on the Seattle University Law Review’s blog called “Deodand,” took screenshots of its 46 pieces — each a short, almost poemlike meditation on legal scholarship — and sold them for collectively about 10 ethers, worth over $30,000.

Frye bought the law-review staff a bottle of Dom Pérignon Champagne, he told Insider. He writes in the bathtub, he said, and sometimes works at the counter of a vacant corner-grocery store attached to his house that he and his wife plan to turn into an arts space.

More recently, he said he made NFTs of a series of stamps, titled them “SEC No-Action Letter Request 3: Securitized NFTs” and “sold out immediately,” making about 5 ethers, or about $15,000, in the process. On Thursday evening, he created another series of NFTs from illustrations in old patents. They sold out before the night was over, and Frye made another 5 ethers, he said.

His latest collection sold for 0.1 ethers per work, one-third of which covers transaction costs.

“I don’t really care that much about making a profit,” he said. “It seems like people see that as a good, low price.”

Records of Frye’s transactions are public on OpenSea and Mintable, and he shared a record of a recent transfer from his Coinbase account to his bank for nearly $30,000. He said he planned to buy his wife a Ford Mustang.

Frye studied art and says NFTs aren’t worthless

Before becoming a lawyer and working for investment-bank clients at Sullivan & Cromwell, Frye studied art and worked as a filmmaker. His legal papers quote artists like Andy Warhol and Sol LeWitt.

“I’m trying to perfect the genre of ‘hold my beer’ legal scholarship,” he said in an interview. He called the SEC his “stooge” in a recent paper.

Other law professors have written absurd articles. But few have been able to turn them into a side hustle in the way Frye has. He compared the performative worthlessness of his NFTs to Maurizio Cattelan’s work “Comedian,” which centers on a banana duct-taped to a wall and sold for $120,000.

The notion that someone would buy a work of conceptual art like that without expecting its value to grow, like a security, is ridiculous, Frye said.

“I don’t understand why the SEC is just pretending like this doesn’t exist,” he said. “They don’t like looking foolish, and they also don’t have any idea what to say.”

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