NFT auction earns Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews

NFT auction earns Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews nearly $200K, with some proceeds for SickKids

After three days on the virtual auction block, Auston Matthews’ collection of digital art has earned the equivalent of nearly $200,000, with a portion of the funds to be donated to SickKids.

The Toronto Maple Leafs centre is the second NHL player to partake in the ever-growing business of nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

The “Auston Matthews x The 34 Collection” included 107 limited edition pieces of digital artwork, including digital hockey cards, which fuse his style with a few of his interests and highlights, according to OpenSea, the NFT marketplace where the auction went live.

Matthews sold 104 of the pieces by the end of the auction Saturday night and, with offers now on the last three pieces, the entire collection will be sold.

“We’re really proud of how it went,” his agent Judd Moldaver told the Star.

NFTs are unique digital assets backed by blockchain technology that acts as a certificate of authenticity.

Matthews collaborated with Wasserman, the marketing company of which Moldaver is the senior vice-president of its hockey department, to design the digital artwork.

There was no financial target, Moldaver said. Matthews was curious about NFTs and, in creating them, he was “expressing his more artistic side.”

The big-ticket item in the collection sold at the equivalent of about $95,000, Moldaver said.

The piece depicts the back of Matthews’ No. 34 jersey with a “Papi” name plate: the nickname family and friends gave Matthews growing up. One edition, digitally signed by Matthews, was sold and it won’t be minted again.

The winner also received a signed Papi jersey, a personalized message from Matthews, two tickets to a Leafs game and a virtual meet-and-greet with the player.

The hype around NFTs presented an opportunity to donate to SickKids and the fight against cystic fibrosis, Moldaver added.

It’s a fight that hits close to home for Matthews, whose uncle Bill died from the disease in his early 30s. That uncle introduced Matthews to the game of hockey.

Just last Monday, Matthews collaborated with SickKids, scoring a hat trick in branded SickKids equipment — skates and a stick — and giving the equipment to the hospital to auction off.

The very first to release his own NFTs of memorabilia was Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk. In March, Tkachuk sold an autographed game-used stick, jersey and a post-game or virtual meet and greet for $27,954.



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