Picture this: You’re on Mars. (You own a house there in this scenario.) The sun is setting on this otherworldly red planet, with the sky throwing incredible shades of brilliance in your eyes, blinding rays deflecting off the sheen of your rare Lamborghini. You cruise along, blasting DJ Steve Aoki tunes into the 95% carbon dioxide, 0.1% oxygen atmosphere. Everything oozes glamour. You’re in the future.
Wait, a reality check: You’re actually in your boring, Earthly living room, it’s still year three of the pandemic, and you’re wearing headphones or—better yet—a huge pair of VR goggles. Looks goofy; doesn’t matter. Your escape comes via a Lamborghini NFT.
That Mars house is what Aoki conjures up to describe his newest project, a Web3 collaboration with the automaker, digital artist Krista Kim (of the original Mars House) and marketing agency INVNT Group. Today, they’re unveiling the “world’s first NFT ever to be auctioned with a physical super sports car”—the last ever to be made in the Coupe series of Lamborghini’s Hollywood-revered Aventadors, which look like silver bullets on wheels except they’re usually red, blue, or yellow. When it’s sold at RM Sotheby’s (the classic car dealership of the fine arts broker) it will come with a custom NFT, linked to artwork by Kim and a soundtrack composed by Aoki. (A line in a media kit suggests the package could go for over 5 million Euros.)
“Lamborghini and the NFT community fit together very well, as we share many values,” says Stephan Winkelmann, chief executive of Lamborghini, which was founded in 1963. “We are both young-spirited innovators, looking out for unexpected projects and technological solutions. This project is very special for us as it is a true first, a path nobody has ever taken.”
(The NFT also comes with a digital replica of the Lamborghini as a GLB file, which can be used as a skin in any metaverse, plus real-world perks including online meet-and-greets with Aoki and Kim, a tour of the Museo Lamborghini, and previews of not-yet-released Lamborghini models.)
The mere presence of NFTs at lofty auction houses isn’t new—far from it, in fact. In 2021, Sotheby’s sold at least $65 million in NFTs, and Christie’s sold nearly $150 million, including a record-breaking $70 million jpeg credited with jump-starting the whole craze. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have both teamed up with artists for NFTs, and Alfa Romeo’s claims to use the blockchain to store car maintenance data. Even Lamborghini launched its first token in February, called “Space Time Memory” and bundled with International Space Station carbon fibers from the company’s work with NASA.
But if you love supercars—this time, brace for a transcendental experience. As Aoki tells Fast Company, he meditated for two hours before even picking up the pen to write the music for the upcoming NFT. “When you think of Lamborghini, you think of power, the engine, speed, technological innovation,” he says.
Aoki gathered those mechanical sounds, then chilled it down to a meditative soundscape, a cue he took from the vibes of Kim’s art. Both of them helped design the appearance of the car in the NFT realm, inside out, down to its colors and detailing. “I want you to be at peace,” says Aoki, “but I also want you to feel powerful, like a force to be reckoned with.”
If Aoki’s involved, the NFT community might tell you it’s a smart bet. A noted crypto-head, Aoki invested ahead of the curve, putting half a million dollars into Bitcoin and Ethereum back in 2018, when Bitcoin was just $10,000 or $11,000 per token and Ethereum $400 to $450. While crypto enthusiasts will remember that Bitcoin fell from that price and stayed low for years following crypto winter, Aoki might be America’s most famous HODLer: “I don’t sell,” he says.
And he doesn’t wait to buy the dip. A true believer, he invested more when the pandemic boom hit. (Do the math, and he’s now somewhere between 4.5x-ed and 8x-ed his money.) NFTs were a natural next venture, which peaked last year with the drop of his “Hairy” NFT that sold for $888.888.88 on Nifty Gateway—a move that earned him more than the past decade of streaming royalties, Aoki has said.
Then came Lamborghini, a perfect fit as Aoki was already a fan when INVNT reached out with the project. (He owns his own limited edition Aventador roadster, purchased several years ago.) “Since I was a kid, I always loved Lamborghinis. To have one was kind of an aspirational goal—’aspirational IP,'” he calls it.
And no doubt he’s onto something: Brands with strong hype culture and luxury cachet have done extremely well for themselves in the NFT world. Last month, Gucci unveiled a collection of clothing and jewelry for Bored Apes, Cool Cats, and more, which has since logged 1,900 ETH (nearly $7 million) in trading volume. (Meanwhile, earlier this year, an unaffiliated project that borrowed Porsche and Mutant Ape Yacht Club branding for a series of “mutant” Porsche Cup race cars, drew much excitement from social media but fizzled after a botched rollout.)
But for Aoki, his Lambo NFT represents the ultimate aspiration, realized. Where does he go from there? Who really knows—and that’s the greatest part. “First I bought the dream car, now I’m actually helping to develop not just the last Aventador [Coupe], but what the next chapter [of Web3] looks like. That’s what’s more exciting—opening up this new doorway, being an architect of the future.”