Turns out George C. Parker was simply ahead of his time. One really can buy the Brooklyn Bridge … or at least a digitized rendering of it.
Parker, a renowned con man, “sold” the bridge that links the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn numerous times to unsuspecting immigrants around the turn of the 20th century. His exploits grew to be so famous that the saying, “If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you” is now a standard way of calling someone gullible.
Now, in an apparent homage to Parker, someone is trying to sell the rights to a virtual representation, a so-called non-fungible token (NFT), of that famous bridge. A performance artist known as gcp-nyc (note the initials) has listed on auction site OpenSea an NFT of what appears to be a Google Maps view of the iconic structure.
Parker would likely have been in awe of the concept of NFTs, and the thought that people can make fortunes simply by selling digitized pictures of items or events that anyone can view on the internet for free. That a piece of digital artwork last week sold for $69.3 million would have surely reduced him to tears.
The people Parker duped into “buying” the Brooklyn Bridge at least thought they were purchasing the physical structure and all the rights associated with it; indeed, some tried to set up tolls upon it. Meanwhile, anyone buying an NFT is buying bragging rights but little else. The property represented by the NFT doesn’t change hands.
“Know ye that this tokenized object entitles the holder to the representation of the Brooklyn Bridge depicted herein.,” says the retro listing.
Half the auction proceeds would go to the Brooklyn Public Library, assuming the unspecified minimum is met. While it’s unknown whether Parker would have approved of such a charitable allocation, clearly he would have appreciated the chutzpah the sale represents.