He’s made his name in revving engines, now he’s into boutique cannabis genetics. Cape Town entrepreneur Matt Benas, CEO of smokemgarage.com, has bought 20 rare cannabis seeds in the world’s first NFT cannabis auction.
Benas paid R224 000 for the never-again-to-be-reproduced seeds from the Green Gage Group (GGG) at the 4 June 2021 online bidding sale.
That’s over R10 000 a seed!
“Fine art, digital currency and luxury cannabis”
GGG is a renowned cannabis cultivator that specialises in producing seeds that have superior genetic qualities. The company’s creations have placed in High Times Magazines’ Top Strains and Seed Bank Hall of Fame awards.
The company recently combined “fine art, digital currency and luxury cannabis” in the form of an NFT auction featuring two ten-packs of cannabis seeds – of the “Rise” and “Burn” strain – which would be sold exclusively to the highest bidder. Two digitised artworks, which were originally hand painted by GGG founder Jeff Selsor, were included in the auctions.
Benas: one could call him far-sighted
A media release from GGG’s Michigan head office states:
“Establishing a new era in the emerging legal cannabis industry, a South African businessman, Matt Benas, outbid everyone in an historic NFT (non-fungible token) auction for two rare packs of seeds and their associated artworks from Gage Green Group.
The legendary master breeders of GGG made history by pioneering an innovative fusion of fine art, digital currency and luxury cannabis. Gage used an NFT auction to release their latest creations: ▲ R I S E and BURN, both accompanied by original works of art by Gage’s founder, Jeff Selsor.”
What is a non-fungible token (NFT)?
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a secure digital file which validates ownership within a blockchain system which represents an online ledger. Any digital art – including images, video game items, and music – can be packaged and sold as NFTs. It’s impossible to forge an NFT, and it acts as an artist’s signature and confirms the identity and ownership of the underlying digital object.
Benas: cannabis and cryptocurrencies go hand in hand.
Matt Benas may be known to South Africans as the man behind smokemgarage.com which customizes high performance vehicles.
“I’ve been interested in cannabis for around 20 years,” Benas told Business Insider South Africa.
“There is a global perception of how elite Gage is and I’ve known about them for a long time. I’m [also] very interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology and [thought] this [NFT auction] was made for me.”
“Rise” artwork by Gage Green Group
The “Rise” auction fetched 5.5 Ethereum (ETH) – the preferred cryptocurrency of NFT marketplaces – while “Burn” was sold for 1.852 ETH. Benas bought both, paying approximately $16,500 worth of ETH which amounted to roughly R224,000 at the time. Bidding on both auctions closed at the end of May, with GGG announcing Benas as the owner of “Rise” and “Burn” on Friday.
“NFT is a great technology to govern and protect the rights of [cannabis] breeders,” says Benas, noting that Gage’s top-tier seeds would usually sell for $1,000 (R13,500) a pack.
“One of the biggest problems in the industry has been the ownership of genetics and it’s one of the biggest parts of the Gage Green story.”
“Burn” artwork by Gage Green Group
Benas sees the recent seed purchase as an important investment in South Africa’s cannabis industry and hopes that the exclusivity of these strains offers a unique boost to the sector and his own cultivation ambitions.
“I really want South Africa to have something unique and special throughout the world… and now we do, South Africa is going to be producing an absolutely unique cannabis strain that we will only ever be able to produce,” explains Benas.
“You’re only going to get a once-off, one in the world.”
Benas says that he’s received harsh criticism online for his high bid on GGG’s NFTs, noting that social media users have been quick to point out that he overpaid for the seeds without “seeing the bigger picture”.
“There’s a lot of value that people don’t see,” explains Benas.
“I’ve got people that love it and people messaging me, telling me that it’s trash and it’s not art. It’s different strokes for different folks. Most of the people are reacting [negatively] because they don’t know and don’t understand.”
About the Green Gage Group
Cannabis aficionados have long applauded Gage’s legendary genetics. The creative forces behind GGG, Mike Fong and Jeff Selsor, have dedicated themselves to crafting flowers and seeds in a natural organic farming ecosystem known as the GGG BIODOME, a manifestation of centuries of combined experience to bring forth Heaven on Earth. Together, they have created 200+ unique crosses including Grape Stomper, Mendo Breath, Mango Puff, High School Sweetheart, & more. Gage is embarking on a dynamic entry into the evolving cannabis market via a range of strategic partnerships designed to introduce the world to the finest craft cannabis.