‘Disaster Girl’ Meme NFT sells for $ 500,000
The name Zoë Roth might not ring a bell. But there’s a good chance you’ve seen his photo.
On a Saturday morning in 2005, when Mrs Roth was 4, her family went to see a house on fire in their neighborhood in Mebane, NC, firefighters had intentionally started the blaze like a controlled fire, so it was was a relaxed affair: Neighbors gathered and the firefighters allowed the children to take turns holding the hose.
Mrs Roth recalls seeing the flames engulf the house when her father, an amateur photographer, asked her to smile. With her hair crooked and a knowing look in her eyes, Mrs. Roth gave an evil smile as the fire roared behind her. “Disaster Girl” was born.
In the years since Dave Roth, Zoë’s father, entered a photo contest in 2007 and won, the image has been altered in various disasters throughout history, with Mrs. Roth smiling playfully. as a meteor wipes out dinosaurs or the Titanic sinks into the distance. Now, after more than a decade of endless reuse of her image as a vital part of the meme’s canon, Ms. Roth has sold the original copy of her meme as a non-fungible token, or NFT, for almost a half a million dollars.
The meme sold for 180 Ether, a form of cryptocurrency, at a Foundation auction on April 17 to a user identified as @ 3FMusic. As with any currency, the value of Ether fluctuates, but on Thursday 180 Ether was valued at over $ 495,000. The Roths have retained the copyright and will receive 10% of future sales.
The market for property rights in digital art, ephemera and media known as NFT is exploding. All NFTs, including the ‘Disaster Girl’ meme that Ms. Roth just sold, are stamped with a unique digital code that marks their authenticity and stored on the blockchain, a distributed ledger system that underpins Bitcoin and d ‘other cryptocurrencies.
In the Hall of Fame meme, “Disaster Girl” ranks alongside “Ermahgerd”, a pigtailed teenage girl posing with “Goosebumps” books; “Bad Luck Brian,” immortalized in a grinning yearbook photo with braces; and “Success Kid,” a toddler on a beach with a clenched fist and an expression of intense determination.
In an interview, Ms Roth said that selling the meme was a way for her to take control of a situation she had felt helpless in since she had been in elementary school.
Before making the decision to sell, Ms. Roth consulted with “Bad Luck Brian” himself – her real name is Kyle Craven – and Laney Griner, the mother of “Success Kid”.
“It’s the only thing memes can do to gain control,” Ms. Roth remembers, Mr. Craven told her.
Memes of “Disaster Girl” have spread around the world. A group from Poland once requested permission to use the meme for educational material on a dying indigenous language. Someone in Portugal sent Ms Roth pictures of a mural with the meme.
“You just have to adapt it however you want,” she says. “I love seeing them because I would never do them myself, but I love seeing how creative people are.”
Over the years, she has seen hundreds of iterations of her photo. One shared last summer during racial justice protests was among her favorites, she said.
“Once it’s there, it’s there and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Mr Roth said. “He always finds a way to stay relevant in the face of every new kind of terrible, terrible bad thing that’s going on, so I laughed at a lot of them.”
Ms. Roth, now 21, is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and studies peace, war and defense. She was never recognized as a “Disaster Girl,” she says, but most of her friends and acquaintances know her notoriety.
“People who are in memes and go viral is one thing, but the way the internet has kept my photo and kept it viral, keeping it relevant, is so crazy to me,” she said. “I am very grateful for the whole experience.”
Even so, she says, she hopes to someday do something meaningful enough to move “Disaster Girl” to the second page of search results for her name.
After graduation, Ms. Roth plans to take a year off before pursuing graduate studies in international relations. She said she would donate the fortune she made from her likeness – which is still in the form of cryptocurrency – to charities and to pay off her student loans, among others.
When she’s at home, she often walks past the land where it all started and wonders if the locals know it’s a “meme place,” she says.
“The people who are in the memes didn’t have much of a choice,” she said. “Internet is great. Whether you’re having a good or bad experience, you just need to make the most of it. “
Ben Lashes, who handles the Roths and stars of other memes including “Nyan Cat”, “Grumpy Cat”, “Keyboard Cat”, “Doge”, “Success Kid”, “David After Dentist” and the “Ridiculously Photogenic Guy, ”said his clients had accumulated more than $ 2 million in sales from NFT.
He said NFT’s sales helped make memes a sophisticated art form and “serious cultural elements.”
“I think whenever you can find a collector – regardless of the price – who respects the art behind and will cherish it, it’s a successful sale, whether it’s an Ether, 200 or 300”, a- he declared.