NFT collector Les Borsai on bored apes and precision investing

Five minutes with: a collector who invests with emotion and intelligence.

TEXT MARK LEAN

IMAGES LES BORSAI

Les Borsai (pictured below) is a former music industry executive-turned-co-founder of the crypto-based investment company Wave Financial Group in Los Angeles. He shares with Brytehall his eventful and evolving journey as an NFT art aficionado. 

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“I bought an Ape for USD3,700. In a period of three months, [it’s] now worth USD150,000. I know these prices can reverse just as quickly.”

When did you get into the NFT space? How has it developed since then?

I got involved in cryptocurrency in 2013. I bought my first CryptoPunk in 2017, but sadly lost it. CryptoKitties were my next purchase in 2017. It was a natural extension of the many ICOs (initial coin offerings) that were happening then. There has always been a close relationship to gaming, virtual goods and cryptocurrency. So, in terms of development, we have seen acceleration in the metaverse for those gaming-based NFTs. Fine arts [are] becoming more competitive with the [inclusion of] traditional gallery systems, and DeFi-based NFTs [becoming] new types of financial-based collectibles. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Would you give some highlights of your NFT collection?

You may have seen that Christie’s in Asia is auctioning a CryptoPunk, a Meebit and a Bored Ape [NFT]. I am happy to say my personal collection has all of these. But there are other NFTs I just love—Lirona’s #boiz, which are fine art, Cyberkongz VX and my Tom Sachs Rocket.

What are the NFTs in your collection with stories to tell? 

I think the Tom Sachs Rocket tells its own story. I have a Snickers Rocket of which they will burn the digital art [version]. Then Tom will sculpt a rocket and launch it. He will film the launch, and give me the sculpture and the film as an NFT. I love the creativity. I came from the music business so the community has always alerted me earlier on to great art. The same applies to NFTs. Adding to the fact that I was a card collector, and it’s such a great thing to be involved in. I just started looking at everything because I was curious. I mainly collect NFTs that will ultimately have a place in the metaverse, and there are certain fine art NFTs that have. I am getting more into the Art Blocks stuff although I haven’t really started collecting [these] yet but our NFT fund will [do so].

If an NFT collector is looking to invest in and profit from NFTs, what would your advice be?

I have been guilty of not following my own rules. For me, it’s not that simple. I have to recognise [the fact] I may get stuck with an NFT because there will be no market for it. So I better love what I am buying in the first place. Now this, of course, only applies to secondary market purchases. As far as the drops go, I need to have a good sense of my purpose. It usually starts with: do I love the function? Is there an emerging technology [involved]? Or do I love the art or the artist? For instance, Polymorphs may not be regarded as the most beautiful NFTs but they did a scramble tech connected to [the NFTs], which allowed you to change the traits. This was amazing because it allowed the collector to define aesthetic value.

NFT prices are often susceptible to market conditions. As an NFT collector, what is your approach when making investments?

If I looked at market conditions each time I bought an NFT, I would drive myself crazy. Cryptocurrency is a very volatile market. I bought an Ape for USD3,700. In a period of three months, [it’s] now worth USD150,000. I know these prices can reverse just as quickly. I do believe that launching at Christie’s connects the appraisal value to a tried and true system that has been happening since 1755. But if I have used the market to benefit me when it’s down and bearish. I tend to buy much more then.

Currently, with so many NFT marketplaces being established, in which directions do you see the industry going?

I don’t love most of the marketplaces. I don’t believe they allow the artist to shine because an artist is one of many. I see more dedicated sites being built around artists across the board in different sectors. I am very excited by the ability to create liquidity and all the guys incorporating DeFi models. I am looking forward to the advances of NFTs in the metaverse, and the sharding that will come, most likely, connected to music projects.

What are the elements of an NFT marketplace that set it apart from the rest, and ensure its longevity?

A marketplace can be more than a destination for secondary sales. You can do primary launches with minting capability. You can arbitrage primary sales using a secondary marketplace. You can follow traction and research. You can display collections. There are already serious amounts of funds travelling through places like OpenSea. The real excitement will come around the open source model of sharing underlying technologies. Launches for sites governed by communities like Universe.xyz are super exciting. They were connected to the Fluf’s launch, and that is pretty game-changing.