One super popular cryptocurrency fundamental by some esteemed crypto acolyte or another goes something like, if you do not own the private keys then you do not own the currency. This same principle can hold true for tokens, including art NFTs.
Why does this matter?
Simple– whenever you use a service with a wallet, such as Coinbase, they have they private keys, not you. So you actually do not own anything until you have transferred it to a wallet for which you do own the private key. This is known as a custodial wallet.
HOWEVER, the real pain occurs if you make the mistake of sending non-cryptocurrency assets, like NFTs to a custodial wallet, because there's an extremely high chance that you'll never get those assets back. Ever.
Historical Example of All Time
Soulja Boy is an American rapper and entrepreneur who recently entered the cryptocurrency and crypto collecting space in a major way by announcing his Ethereum address.
What most did not yet know (or did they?!), this address 0x5684f1c91f59daeb6cf9da054753d9d4439a539c is a Coinbase custodial wallet address, which again means that Soulja Boy does not technically own its contents, Coinbase does.
The co-founder of a crypto wallet chimes in to offer Soulja Boy the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) name souljaboy.eth in exchange for a shoutout to his project. At this time it is presumed that he does not yet know that Soulja Boy's wallet is custodial in nature and is just trying to be welcoming to the space...
When redemption time come?
When Soulja Boy attempts to use the new ENS name however, he hits a major snag!
At this stage, everyone watching had realized that Soulja Boy entered the dark forest of Ethereum with a Coinbase wallet, and there was much chaos to be had in the related Twitter threads.
A painful lesson was learned, and appeals to no less than Brian Armstrong himself were made to save souljaboy.eth (and perhaps the dozen or so other NFTs his wallet had accumulated by then).
Will this ever happen? We don't know, but it is unprecedented so we are prepared to follow up with a new story if Soulja Boy's nascent NFT collection is ever made available to him.
The Lost Art of Wrong Wallet Kind
As we cover cryptoart at Alpacawhal, let us have a quick look into a few examples of art NFTs also contained within this unfortunate wallet.
The amazing artist JOY has a charming line of "JOYtoys", and this wallet contains edition number 219 of the "No.2 JOYtoy" piece, a delightful circling pencil with spinning gold teeth.
Will Soulja Boy get his art NFTs back?
That's the question, and we will be here with an update to let you know...