Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue is a vaunted strip of stores, with luxury retailers and other major brands fighting for shoppers’ attention. Come next week, an NFT gallery will join their ranks, as the Web3 NYC Gallery is set to open up in Midtown.
But the location itself might not even be the most interesting piece of the puzzle. What really stands out is the ability for anyone, anywhere to own the exclusive rights to show off and sell their own NFTs—either created or collected—on one of the displays, and control it remotely.
That’s the hook offered by Web3 NYC Gallery, which will open its doors on June 15 at 510 5th Avenue in New York City. As part of its offerings, the location will feature 300 NFT displays from partner Tokenframe, which can only be controlled by the owner of an associated Genesis NFT.
“I think we have 20 times more NFT frames than have ever been in a room before,” co-founder and CEO Nick Rotola told Decrypt. Those are just the user-controlled frames too. There are hundreds more that will be used for brand partnerships and other product offerings.
If you buy a Genesis NFT—whether during the initial primary sale, or in the future from a secondary marketplace—then you can showcase almost any NFTs you want in the gallery. Web3 NYC Gallery has developed a software platform that lets owners connect an Ethereum wallet via a website and choose which images to display. (Tokenframe plans to add support for other public blockchains, such as Solana and Tezos, in the future.)
Within the gallery, visitors can scan a QR code on the frame and purchase any NFTs that are listed for sale. Rotola told Decrypt that the store will have NFT-savvy associates onhand to help buyers with setting up wallets and buying artwork, and will help ensure that they understand the process and aren’t buying knockoff collectibles.
“We took our longest wall, and we said, ‘This is going to be owned by people,’” said Rotola. “The people are going to have the same access to Fifth Avenue that Louis Vuitton has, and that all of these big, amazing, incredible brands have. They get to be on Fifth Avenue, but these people do too.”
An NFT works like a proof of ownership to a digital item, and NFTs often represent things like digital artwork, profile pictures, sports and entertainment collectibles, and video game items. The market expanded significantly in 2021, generating some $25 billion in trading volume, and 2022 volume is currently on track to smash that sum despite an oft-volatile market.
Web3 NYC Gallery offers displays tied to its Genesis NFTs at three different levels: 160 10-inch Collector’s Club displays ranging from 1.5 ETH ($2,680) to 2 ETH ($3,580), 110 21.5-inch Degen Club displays ranging from 5 ETH ($8,950) to 10 ETH ($17,900), and 30 43-inch Alpha Club displays that are being sold privately at unlisted prices.
There’s no ongoing payment or rent required for NFT owners to use their respective displays. Genesis owners can showcase owned NFTs from their wallet, whether it’s a Bored Ape Yacht Club avatar on Ethereum or their favorite XCOPY or Art Blocks piece. They can even show off their own created NFTs, offering a way for project creators to market their wares.
However, there will be limits on pornographic content due to Web3 NYC Gallery being a publicly accessible space, and they aim to stamp out “scammy” content, as well. Rotola said that the gallery is using “very proven A.I. to test every single image” for objectionable content.
As mentioned, while the collector-operated displays make up a large chunk of Web3 NYC Gallery’s footprint, there’s more going on within the space. There will be other display areas for partnerships with brands and NFT creators, as well as additional Web3 content—such as crypto games and metaverse offerings.
It has an exclusive club for Alpha-level Genesis NFT owners, too, along with various perks for each tier of NFT owners. Rotola also said that the gallery has numerous revenue streams in the works, including the Genesis NFT sales and secondary royalties, commission deals with brands and artists, sponsorships, events, and exclusive clubs for high-value collectors.
Web3 NYC Gallery isn’t the first NFT gallery in New York City—one opened early last year—let alone the rest of the world. Decrypt has covered gallery openings in London, Chicago, and Los Angeles, for example. The just-opened Quantum Space LA even has its own NFT membership program focused on access to events and NFT drops.
Beyond the ability to let NFT owners control the display frames, Rotola suggested that what sets Web3 NYC Gallery apart from other such galleries is a focus on onboarding the masses.
With a prominent Fifth Avenue location, he sees significant potential for the gallery to serve as an onramp to the new and potentially confounding world of Web3. Rotola wants Web3 NYC Gallery to be “a Best Buy for Web3,” encompassing an array of initiatives across the Web3 space along with helpful staffers and an array of things to see and interact with.
“If you look at what Best Buy and Circuit City did for Web1, that needs to happen for Web3,” he said. “You're not going to get the masses onboarding in chat rooms, and they're not going to be coming to CryptoMondays or those kinds of things. They need something really simple.”
Web3 NYC Gallery’s solution is to have knowledgeable associates that can hold buyers’ hands in setting up wallets and understanding the space. But it also wants to make things tangible in some ways, such as offering printed slabs and jackets that show someone’s NFTs, plus plans to add a vending machine that’s ideal for kids to buy and trade digital packs of NFT collectibles.
With the coming metaverse expected to be a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity that crypto builders and tech giants alike are betting on, Web3 NYC Gallery is eyeing expansion, as well. It plans a franchise model that will let crypto and NFT builders open their own local outposts using the same kind of approach, complete with Genesis NFTs for each space.
“Eventually, there's going to be 2 billion users of Web3,” said Rotola. “How are we going to get from now to 2 billion? I think you need stores like ours to hold people's hands from start to finish, and that's what we're betting on.”