Ashleigh Barty, the top women’s player in the world hailing from Australia, chose to walk away from the game of tennis at the peak of her powers. Although she played relatively few events last year, the 25-year-old entered every match as the favourite and earned the number one ranking. That led her to a title at Wimbledon last summer. Then, this January, she became the first Australian, man or woman, to win the Australian Open since 1978. Few could have imagined that her superb victory in the Australian Open final would be her last match. Her decision was motivated in large part by her success: “Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me, as a person and as an athlete”, Barty said. “When you work so hard all your life for one goal, to be able to win Wimbledon, which was my one dream, my one true dream in tennis, that really changed my perspective”. Then, when she captured the Australian Open title, she had accomplished essentially all that she had set out to accomplish: “That felt to me like my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been”, Barty stated.
Barty represents a generation that will continue to confuse older generations in both the sporting and business worlds. After all, the tennis world is still clamouring for a 40-year-old Serena Williams to win her 24th major, and painting it as a failure when each time she fails at that task. There is an eternal hunger for more, more, more, and even the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) faces criticism for not extending her own records. It’s no wonder that Barty said enough is enough, and we should not be surprised when talented young businesspeople do not have insatiable appetites. Young, talented people will reach their goals, and then they will focus on living their lives. Very few people want to be the next Zuckerberg; they want to prove themselves and then focus on their personal lives. Ash Barty decided to focus on Ash Barty the person, not the tennis player. Do not be surprised if some of the business world’s most talented young people make similarly confounding moves.
The recently published Art Basel & UBS Global Art Market Report, the most authoritative annual study of the global art market, reported last week that the art market grew by 29% in 2021 to a total of 65.1 billion USD. But as The New York Times points out, not everybody industry agrees with the report’s methodology. This year’s report was based on 774 survey self-reported responses, most of which came from Europe. Some 37 per cent of those responses came from galleries with revenue of more than 1 million USD per year. Whether or not the traditional art trade is actually recovering, the NFT trade is experiencing a meteoric rise. Sales of art-related NFTs increased over a hundredfold year-on-year, reaching 2.6 billion USD. Sales of NFT collectibles grew to $8.6 billion, says the report, using data supplied by NonFungible.com. That means that within a year, NFTs went from a negligible part of the art market to comprising almost 12% of total transactions. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of the art world.
Booms do not always lead to busts, but in the case of NFTs, the bust seems to be coming along fast. According to NonFungible.com, the average sale price of an NFT is now below 2,000 USD. That’s down from over 6,800 in January, and cumulative daily sales have dropped from 160 million in January to 26 million in recent weeks. Perhaps most importantly, NFTs had a total market capitalization of 23 billion USD. Today, it’s just over 10 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. Even meteors fall from the sky.