An NFT collection inspired by the 16th-century Dutch tulip bubble is drawing flocks of bidders – and one has sold for more than $50,000

Skagit Valley mount vernon tulips
Tulip fields. LoweStock
  • An NFT collection of pixelated flowers inspired by the Dutch tulip bubble is attracting crypto buzz, with one selling for more than $US55,000 ($AU75,579).
  • The NFTs, launched on Monday, are an explicit tribute to the 16th-century Dutch tulip craze and subsequent crash.
  • The tulip mania has become a modern parable for how the madness of crowds can drive rampant price speculation.
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An NFT collection of pixelated flowers inspired by the Dutch tulip bubble is attracting crypto buzz, with one selling for more than $US55,000 ($AU75,579).

The collection of 50 NFTs, launched on Monday, are an explicit tribute to the 16th-century Dutch mania that saw multicolor tulip bulbs sold for massively inflated prices before crashing. At the peak of the bubble, one tulip bulb sold for 20 times the yearly income of a skilled worker, according to the BBC.

The collection – pitching itself as paying “homage to the investors who risked it all to make a fortune” – sold out on NFT marketplace OpenSea within hours, according to the artist.

One NFT in the collection sold for as high as 17.5 ether, worth about $US55,785 ($AU76,658) at Wednesday prices.

The tulip mania that swept Dutch society has become a modern parable for how the madness of crowds can drive rampant price speculation – on the “greater fool” theory that another person will always buy your overpriced flower – eventually leading to a devastating crash.

But in recent years, many scholars have noted that the tulip bubble’s history is often oversimplified. In particular, they say that the “mania” was contained to a small number of frenzied speculators, rather than being a society-wide phenomenon. Evidence that anyone was financially ruined by the crash in tulip prices is thin.

Still, some commentators have used the tulip bubble to frame today’s meme-stock and crypto phenomena, pointing to skyhigh prices for GameStop and AMC shares or bitcoin as portents of a coming collapse.