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Whales vs. Shrimps – New NFT Auction Format from

Ryan Cowdrey
2 min read
Whales vs. Shrimps – New NFT Auction Format from

I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting ways people are selling NFTs. Particularly when it introduces a format that hasn’t been done before.

And that is exactly what is bringing us with their upcoming Whales vs. Shrimps auction.

Whales vs. Shrimps

Starting Nov. 5th, will kick off an auction for Russian painter, Oleg Tselkov’s “Head with Legs” painting. The auction is for both the original painting and the 1/1 NFT version. But the auction comes with a twist meant to include buyers at every price point.

Bidders will have a chance to choose a side:

  • Whale: place your bid as a singular entity
  • Shrimp: combine your bid with other shrimp in the shrimp pool

Whales are bidding against all other whales, as well as the shrimp pool. Whereas the Shrimps are bidding only against the top Whale bid.

If a whale wins, they retain ownership of the entire painting and NFT. If the Shrimp pool wins, each Shrimp receives fractional shares in the painting and NFT respective to their bid’s share of the pool.

This gives everyone, no matter what they can afford, the chance to have ownership of a blue-chip piece of art.

Not only does this bypass a step to fractionalize ownership in an NFT through platforms like, but it is also going to create all sorts of new auction dynamics.

  • What happens when two whales are in a bidding war? Will one drop out and join the Shrimp side?
  • What happens when the whale side doesn’t show up in droves? Will the Shrimp pool be able to buy the piece for a steal?

Overall, I’m very interested to see how this first experiment goes. But regardless, I think it’s a format that is going to get copied many times over on different marketplaces.

Opportunity for Fine Art

The Fine Art market is slowly, but surely, transitioning its pieces into NFTs.

Outside of creating elaborate new NFT projects (as Damien Hirst and Tom Sachs did), this auction format provides an easy in-road to just sell fine art NFTs as is. Something that is appealing specifically for the artwork from artists that are no longer alive.

The concept of taking any famous artwork and auctioning off a digital, one-of-one replica is not all that appealing. Particularly when the original was created in a physical format.

But combining the NFT with the physical in an auction utilizes the ledger properties of the NFT to create partial ownership in the physical painting (as outlined in the NFT’s smart contract).

Whether or not’s first auction is a financial success, they are introducing us to a new auction format for the fine art community to more naturally offer NFTs. And for that, we thank you.