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By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray is cashing in on the craze for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) by selling the "moment" he won the Wimbledon tennis tournament in 2013 in the latest such high-profile auction.
NFTs are crypto assets which record ownership of a digital item, such as an image, video or text, on blockchain. While anyone can view or download the asset in question, only the buyer can claim the status of being its official owner.
So the buyer of Murray's Wimbledon NFT will not own the copyright of the video footage, but a crypto asset which refers to a video of the moment the Scottish ace first won the coveted lawn tennis title.
Artists, musicians, sports clubs and social media influencers are among those to have embraced NFTs as a way of making money from their achievements.
NFTs exploded in popularity in early 2021, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in investments and prompting concerns of a bubble as prices soared. The buying frenzy continued even after cryptocurrency prices plunged last month.
Murray's auction plan was announced on Thursday by NFT marketplace WENEW, which was set up by American digital artist Mike Winkelmann, who is also known as Beeple.
"The Wimbledon Final in 2013 was such a big moment in my life. I decided to work with WENEW and Wimbledon to turn this moment into an NFT so that fans can share in that memorable day," Murray said in a statement.
In March, an NFT of a Beeple artwork sold for $69.3 million at Christie's, putting him in the top three most valuable living artists.
Beeple's new platform, which runs on the ethereum blockchain, will sell short video clips in the form of tradable NFTs. Buyers get a small physical screen for displaying the video and in some cases perks such as celebrity access.
"Giving people the chance to collect these things is a different experience than just viewing them on YouTube," Beeple added.
In the case of Murray's NFT they also get two tickets to Centre Court for the 2022 men's Wimbledon finals, a chance to play tennis with the 34-year-old and signed souvenirs.
Also on the block are 20 NFTs of the moment Murray lifted his trophy at $4,999 each, 50 of his post-win interview for $499 each, 100 of his interview after his 2012 Wimbledon loss for $99 each, and 500 of a video of 2013 Murray highlights at $49 each.
WENEW will receive a portion of the proceeds, but the majority will go to the people involved in making the moment.
The Murray auction will be on July 2-5. Buyers will be able to pay in the cryptocurrency ether, as well as dollars.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Alexander Smith)