a screenshot from google dated October 2021 that is the headline from a British Journal Of Photography post. The title says "Introducing ART3: A brand new platform bringing the best lens-based art to the metaverse"

How NFTs gobbled up 1854 and the world’s longest running photography publication

The British Journal of Photography is “The world’s longest running and most influential photography magazine“. They joined twitter in 2008 with the user name @1854 and accrued over 256k followers. Now that account looks like this:

So, how did the BJP go from social media darlings to a dead account? The answer is NFTs.

As the NFT art market continues to boom, ART3.io will be home to expertly curated, exclusively minted NFT photography collections, available to own via OpenSea

BJP article from October 2021

Like Artnet (and other artist-facing businesses), the BJP decided to go all in on NFTs. Instead of creating a new Twitter account, they simply changed their existing handle from @1854 to @ART3io and became “A better way to discover, collect, buy and sell NFT photographic art“.

Instead of spinning up a new account from scratch, the BJP moved all of their photography content to a new account called @bjp1854 and renamed their old @1854 account as @art3io. This way the new NFT based company could keep all the account’s 250,000 followers.

I wondered why the BJP didn’t just spin up a new account with the name @1854, so I decided to try it myself. It turns out that Twitter has a newer policy preventing anyone from registering usernames with less than five characters. So the BJP couldn’t create a new account with the old handle.

“Your username must be longer than 4 characters.”

The rug pull…

This isn’t just another story of a well-loved company selling out it’s fans. A few years back, the British Journal of Photography was in desperate need of funding. Rather than a traditional crowdfunding campaign, they used a platform called Crowdcube, which is sort of like a Kickstarter site that sells shares in a company, rather than traditional rewards.

This wasn’t crowdfunding, it was an investment.

These photography lovers were investing their money into a 160-year-old photo publication with a lot of goodwill and a sizable Twitter following. What they got was a Twitter account about NFTs and an email informing them that their shares had been forcibly sold.

As far as I can tell, the average BJP investor paid $1,369 for the shares, and only received $13.69 back when the company sold. That’s a 99% loss. Here’s @duckrabbit again with some actual figures.

“Our outward modeling for the current business would offer a projected 6x return in 4 years … if we succeed with blockchain concept the future enterprise value of the business could be exponentially higher”

Marc Hartog, CEO of 1854 (documented by @duckrabbit here)

So the questions remain, why were shares valued so high in July of last year, but sold so low at the end of the year?

Who is next?

As mentioned before, The British Journal of Photography isn’t the only artist facing company to jump into crypto/NFT/web3 hype. When this fad is done, what damage will it leave in its wake?


this blog post is a modified version of a twitter thread I shared yesterday

Big shout out to @duckrabbitblog who’s posts came in handy while I was working on my thread.