What's Going On With Paris Hilton's Pivot to NFT Influencer?

Illustration for article titled What's Going On With Paris Hilton's Pivot to NFT Influencer?
Image: Jerritt Clark (Getty Images)

I’m not very smart and I won’t claim to understand this NFT business on any comprehensive level. Cool, digital art can now be bought and sold, but this really only benefits a few people and widens the growing divide online between those whose art is visible to begin with and everyone else. People love it and people hate it, and already, corporations and record labels and celebrities have rushed to the crypto-gold mines in search of the next windfall.


Enter Paris Hilton.

In an interview with Coindesk last Friday, Hilton claimed she dreamed in NFTs now, having pivoted almost her entire brand the burgeoning collect-a-thon. She told the outlet her interest in cryptocurrency was sparked by a dinner party conversation with Ethereum founders in 2016, later investing in bitcoin and ether. Seems she struck it rich in the process, as the influencer-turned-DJ-turned-occasional reality television star recently launched an Instagram account devoted to her NFT habits, writing in the introductory post: “Hi guys! I made a separate account to share with you my LOVE for NFTs. 😍 I’ll be sharing with you the ways I’m investing, collecting and supporting NFTs as well as creating my own NFTs 🚀 Stay tuned for more! ⚡️”

Subsequent posts document her crypto-obsession, media appearances on the subject, and original art. Among such art is a piece titled “Iconic Crypto Queen,” a part of her first “NFT drop,” and created alongside collaborator Blake Kathryn. Yahoo reports that other pieces from the drop, like “Hummingbird in my metaverse” and “Legend of love” have brought in a total of $220,000 in sales for Hilton, while bidding for “Iconic Crypto Queen capped out at $1.1 million.

Makes sense that legacy auction houses like Christie’s have taken to the NFT wave.

In an interview on @parishiltonnft earlier in the week with collector and “NFT sherpa” Whale Shark, Hilton said that she’s been a “student of the game, learning everything there is to learn, and speaking to leaders in the space” of crypto-art. She also echoed comments made to Coindesk about seeking “female empowerment” with her latest “drop” by collaborating with Kathryn. In a separate interview with W, Hilton elaborated on her entrance into the NFT “metaverse,” after she was approached by Cryptograph in March 2020, who commissioned a hand-drawn picture of her cat Munchkin, which later sold for $17,000 in a charity auction. She continued:

After my painting launched last year, I just realized the power of the technology and how it can empower and inspire people, especially creators. I became a student of the game, talking to industry leaders, joining Clubhouse chats, researching, listening to podcasts. People have been talking about NFTs since last year, but the mainstream media only picked it up a few months ago.


As for the future of her crypto-passions:

I really see them as the future of art. Before, art was all about, you know, if you could get to the Gagosian gallery or get into Art Basel. There wasn’t really a space for digital art. So they’ve really opened up this whole new world; even if you’re not a big name, no matter where you’re from, if you have an internet connection and you have talent, you can come through and do something.


If anything becomes clear after a brief scroll through her recent Instagram posts and media appearances, it’s that Hilton has made obvious strides in her ongoing brand rehabilitation, coming in the wake of her Youtube Original documentary This Is Paris in 2020. But like most other pivots in her career—whether it be author or fashion designer or DJ—I’d approach this new venture with a heaping amount of skepticism.

I don’t doubt that Hilton has done the work to listen and learn from people inside the world of NFTs, being so successful at the attempt as to even be considered a leader in the community, at least as far as buzzy headlines go. Much of the press around her NFT collaborations also emphasize her aspirations of “female empowerment” through art, embracing the glitzy, airbrushed aesthetic that’s come to define her visual offerings.


However, the only female NFT artist and “innovator” on the front page of the internet this week, as her auction racks up almost $1.5 million in sales, is Hilton. It’s a disparity that undermines the entire enterprise, and a recognizable ploy in her decades long-project of self-reinvention. As Jezebel critic Rich Juzwiak wrote at the time of her documentary’s premiere, “If, after spending two decades as a public figure whose job has often consisted of showing up and existing, Paris Hilton is still misunderstood and dismissed for being a caricature, much of the confusion is her own misleading.”

For Hilton, what’s self-reinvention without the opportunity to make a shitload of money in the process.


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