Nothing on earth is quite as depressing as the moment a celebrity starts getting into NFTs. There you’ll be, quite happy following them on social media when, bang, up pops a sub-Banksy cartoon of a monkey in a wig and a falsely jubilant message celebrating the fact that they’ve joined some sort of club.
NFTs somehow represent all the worst things about celebrity combined. It’s both an obnoxious display of status and a very clear indication that these people see their fans as nothing more than a tradable commodity. It was gross when Gwyneth Paltrow did it. It was gross when Brie Larson did it. It’s gross when anyone does it, quite frankly. Or at least it was, because now David Cronenberg is getting into NFTs, and he may be the saviour of the entire thing.
Cronenberg, you see, has decided to sell a unique piece of art as an NFT. Not for him a picture of a monkey or a painting that looks like it was done by an eight-year-old. No, Cronenberg understands that true art involves giving a little piece of yourself to your audience. And that’s why he’s selling a photo of his kidney stones.
Apparently the stones were passed over the course of two years. His doctors reportedly asked him to submit them for chemical analysis, but he decided to keep hold of them on the basis that “they’re too beautiful to be destroyed”.
That’s questionable but, judging by the photo of the NFT that was posted on Instagram last month, they are at least too Cronenbergian to be destroyed. Up close, they’re a weird mix of biology and geology: some look like pebbles, some look like coral. One has a fleshy nub protruding from it. One, if you look hard enough, appears to be smiling. If you’re a Cronenberg fan, this is as intimate a memento as you’re likely to find.
Better yet, Cronenberg has indicated that, if the NFT auction goes high enough, he will consider throwing in his actual kidney stones as an add-on. And that’s where things get exciting. Because, while NFTs still have the ugly air of a pyramid scheme about them, getting to hold Cronenberg’s real kidney stones in your bare hands would be a genuine, once-in-a-lifetime thrill.
And if that’s the case, they would be a bargain. The starting bid for Cronenberg’s kidney stones is 10 Ethereum, which works out at around £23,000. And while that seems a lot, I urge you to think back to 2006. This is when none other than William Shatner passed his own kidney stones, one so big that, at the time, he declared that “you’d want to wear it on your finger”. Shatner being the enterprising fellow that he is, he quickly decided to sell the stone to the highest bidder, which turned out to be an online casino that had previously bought Pope Benedict XVI’s old Volkswagen Golf and a cheese sandwich displaying the face of the Virgin Mary. The cost of Shatner’s kidney stone? Fourteen thousand pounds.
Here’s where the maths comes in. Shatner had only one kidney stone to sell. Cronenberg has 18 of them. So while his overall price is higher than Shatner’s, his price per stone is markedly lower. We’re talking £1,277 a stone here, which is basically nothing. That’s less than a week at Center Parcs during the summer holidays. You can embed one of Cronenberg’s kidney stones into a dream catcher and use it to ward off evil spirits at night. Can you do that with a week at Center Parcs? No, you cannot. The whole thing is an unbelievable bargain, and you’d be stupid not to buy them now.