“Nyan Cat” Meme Sells for Nearly $600,000

Heather Sheridan, Reporter

A pixelated animation made in 2011 by Texan artist Christopher Torres that the internet has lovingly dubbed Nyan Cat was recently sold to a private bidder for 590,000 dollars this past Friday, the 19th of February, according to Business Insider

The inspiration for the viral animation, which features a cat with a pop-tart body flying through space, was derived from a drawing livestream in 2011. Torres recalls to Know Your Meme, “there was some downtime so I asked the chat room for some opinions. Long story short, several keywords were combined into a rough doodle of a cat with a toaster pastry body and rainbows shooting out of every direction.” From there, he created the viral animation a few days later, which features a pixelated gray cat with a pink pop-tart body flying through the stars and leaving a rainbow trail behind it. 

Soon, YouTube user saraj00n combined the art with the Japanese pop song, Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya! by daniwellP and the version of the piece the internet knows and loves was birthed, according to the official Nyan Cat Wikipedia page. Nya or nyan is a Japanese onomatopoeia word that imitates the sound a cat makes, similar to English’s meow. The YouTube channel this version of the animation was originally posted on is now called, creatively, Nyan Cat, and the video has amassed over 185,000,000 views.

20 years before the idea of Nyan Cat had even been perceived, a new and revolutionary piece of technology was outlined. It had its first use in 2009 when Bitcoin launched in January, says Investopedia. The blockchain technology it was built on is complicated and has many layers, but boiling it down to the basics, is a means of keeping timestamps on data values so that they cannot be changed or edited. These values can be cryptocurrency, and that’s what blockchain technology has most commonly been used as– a leger for digital transactions.

Besides Bitcoin, blockchain technology has been used recently in the exchange of popular digital art pieces identified as originals by NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. These are like badges that are assigned to the original copies. No pieces have similar NFTs; they all mark each as individual, according to Coindesk.

The internet’s favorite colorful pastry-cat that flies through the sky and this advanced and revolutionary tool that has the capacity to deal digital values of money without a third party involved met in the middle last Friday and earned artist Christopher Torres nearly 600,000 dollars for a doodle made a decade ago. The auction was held on the crypto art platform Foundation and was open for 24 hours in total. 

With 590,000 new dollars under his belt and the title of one of the first to directly monetize a meme, Torres told Nasdaq, I’m very surprised with the success, but I think I’m most glad knowing that I’ve basically opened the door to a whole new meme economy in the crypto world. I feel like that’s what it really needed, and it’s going to be great seeing how it plays out.”