‘How far can this joke go?’ Li Shengwu auctions ‘economics of non-fungible tokens’ paper as NFT

Mohammad Akbarpour and Li Shengwu superimposed on a screenshot of the academic paper. Photos: Mohammad Akbarpour/Twitter, Li Shengwu/Twitter, Stanford University
Mohammad Akbarpour and Li Shengwu superimposed on a screenshot of the academic paper. Photos: Mohammad Akbarpour/Twitter, Li Shengwu/Twitter, Stanford University

With NFTs firing up the digital art world in recent weeks, we’re not surprised to see an NFT joke this April Fool’s Day – one brought about by the prime minister’s nephew, no less. 

Li Shengwu, the son of Lee Hsien Loong’s brother Lee Hsien Yang, joined Stanford University’s Mohammad Akbarpour on what appears to be a practical joke promoting an auction for a paper on the “economics of non-fungible tokens.” Except that their paper wasn’t actually written yet, as its blank page attests.

“This is the first paper on the economics of NFTs. The paper has no real content at this point, but the NFT associated with it will be auctioned off soon,” the paper said. Li is an assistant professor at Harvard. 

The paper, which only contained the abstract, title, and names of the authors, has in fact been minted as an NFT and is currently being auctioned on Mintable at S$62(US$46) as of publication time.  

Akbarpour tweeted the “paper” yesterday, calling it a “great investment opportunity” not to be missed. Li, 36, responded this morning with: “Just how far can this joke go?”

While some obviously fell for the joke, others thought that the joke was well played. 

“Do you have a link for the paper. You are a trailblazer of NFT research,” @Rakju wrote.

NFTs are a new way to verify and authenticate digital assets such as artworks and videos on a blockchain. It runs on the Ethereum blockchain network and is traded using the Etherium cryptocurrency, which is the second largest after Bitcoin. Though on the rise, trading prices in the cryptocurrency market can be volatile, with one Ether valued at over S$2,000 (over US$1,900) at publication time, according to Morningstar. 

Other stories you should check out:
Three trees are cut down each year for every Singaporean: study
Two Netflix stoner shows went up in smoke at Singapore’s request
Composer, 250 orphans invited to perform ‘Count On Me, Singapore’ on independence day

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