As one of the original viral videos, the Charlie Bit My Finger clip is sort of an important piece of internet history. The 56-second-long video which was uploaded on YouTube in May 2007 is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube and according to Visible Measures, it was the thirteenth most viewed viral video ever released online. Now fourteen years later, the short clip was auctioned off as a non-fungible token, or NFT which transforms digital works of art, collectibles, GIFs, or memes into unique verifiable assets that are easy to trade on the blockchain. In other words, NFTs create authenticity and scarcity which sell for high prices.
After an intense bidding war between anonymous accounts, the Charlie Bit My Finger video eventually sold for a whopping US$760,999— a purchase value that surpassed all other recent sales of NFTs in the meme genre thanks to its seller claiming he would remove the video from YouTube in order to boost the sale price. The buyer of the NFT is 3F Music, a music studio based in Dubai, which also won the auction for Disaster Girl and other popular NFTs.
Now a week later, the father of the video's two stars, Howard Davies-Carr, says he has changed his mind and that the clip will remain on the video platform after all.
"After the auction, we connected with the buyer who ended up deciding to keep the video on YouTube," Davies-Carr said in an emailed statement. "The buyer felt that the video is an important part of popular culture and shouldn't be taken down. It will now live on YouTube for the masses to continue enjoying as well as memorialized as an NFT on the blockchain."
In an interview with Quartz, Davies-Carr said most of the money from the sale will pay for the university educations of his two famous sons, Harry and Charlie who are now aged 17 and 15. Meanwhile, some funds will also go to carbon offset charities, to help counter the enormous environmental costs of energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining.
"I have dabbled in mining but only when I have excess power being generated from my solar panels," he told Quartz. "This is something Harry and Charlie feel very passionately about, and they will be the next custodians of the planet."