Inside the Mind of an Art Fanatic: Andrew Masanto, the Monk Turned Artist Betting on JPEGS not Stocks

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by Kseniia Klichova · 5 min read
Inside the Mind of an Art Fanatic: Andrew Masanto, the Monk Turned Artist Betting on JPEGS not Stocks
Photo: Coinspeaker

As an NFT entrepreneur, Masanto is the co-founder of, which has become one of the premier community-driven NFT marketplaces.

Technology and art are intertwined. The earliest cave paintings utilized natural dyes to provide pigment. Metal casting enabled the iconic bronze sculptures of Michelangelo and Rodin. Precision cutting tools enabled famed woodworks such as Albrecht Dürer’s “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” As technology evolved, so too did art, propelling humanity towards previously unattainable levels of creativity.

Fast-forward to the present day, and the influence of technology on the art world is even more pronounced. Alongside a bevy of new tools, the advent of digital art has sparked both creativity and democratized access, but also introducing a new problem to the art world: what is the point in owning art that can be perfectly and effortlessly reproduced?

Technology, having created the problem, has also arrived at the solution… ‘NFTs.’ An NFT, or Non-Fungible Token, is a unique digital asset that represents ownership or proof of authenticity of a piece of art, music, video, or other media that is uniquely stored and owned by a single person, using blockchain technology. NFTs use cryptographic algorithms to create a unique identifier for each digital asset, making it possible to verify ownership, history and provenance in a decentralized and tamper-proof manner.

One artist and entrepreneur making waves at the forefront of this new technological art revolution is Andrew Masanto, a former Monk turned entrepreneur, NFT expert and artist.

After graduating university in 2006, Masanto began an apprenticeship as a trainee monk under Dada Shivesh, an Ananda Marga monk, in Africa. During this time, he also participated in humanitarian work at Namaskar School in rural Ejura, a rural town in Ghana. Shortly after finishing his training and becoming inducted as a monk by Dada Shivesh, Masanto contracted Malaria and traveled to London to recover. It was in London in 2011 where Masanto first stumbled upon blockchain technology, which would eventually lead him to becoming an early adopter and pioneer in digital art and NFTs.

As an early adopter and collector, Masanto and his family have accumulated some of the rarest NFT pieces in the world, including the record-breaking “Right Click And Save As Guy” (which was purchased alongside Cozmo de’ Medici / Snoop Dogg), one of the top 10 rarest Bored Apes, an Ether Rock, Rare Pepes and one of the rarest Solana Monkey Business NFTs. Masanto was also famously the highest bidder in the first-ever live NFT auction in the world, held in NYC in 2017.

As an NFT entrepreneur, Masanto is the co-founder of, alongside his long-time business associate and friend, Jordan Fried. Masanto and Fried founded in 2021. Specifically, Masanto was involved in guiding the initial strategy, go-to-market, and marketing efforts for, which has since become one of the premier community-driven NFT marketplaces. The project has gained support from numerous celebrities such as Cozomo de Medici (Snoop Dogg), Ben Greenfield, Kevin O’Leary, Daniel Sharman, Jordan Belfort and others. It has also been featured in major media outlets such as Forbes, NFT Evening, Cointelegraph, Decrypt, and more. The team held a private auction on April 26, 2022, followed by a public sale on May 02, 2022, where they sold over $6.5 million worth of Genesis Keys.

Finally, as an artist, Masanto has a unique perspective. He started the art movement known as ANONA, which emphasizes ego-less, collaborative, community created and owned art. Masanto states “the ethos of ANONA is very much aligned to NFTs and decentralized ownership of art,” and is exploring releasing an NFT project with ANONA at some point in future. Masanto recognized the potential for NFTs to transform the art scene well before they became mainstream in early 2021. “I started learning about and buying NFTs long before anyone even knew what an NFT was,” Masanto notes. “As soon as I discovered the concept in 2015, I set about buying NFTs. Even back then, I could see how they might challenge how art is considered, displayed and owned.”

Masanto posits that his career focus on creating new technology has been inspired in part by the role technology plays in art. He recognizes that “art and technology are so deeply intertwined that when you create new technology, you invariably create new ways for people to express themselves creatively.” He says that this has been one of his key motivations to founding two of the most disruptive Web3 technologies: Hedera Hashgraph (a challenger technology to blockchain) and Reserve (an innovative protocol designed to deal with hyperinflation in developing countries). Aside from, he also recently started Nillion (blockchain-free decentralized infrastructure based on a new mathematical algorithm). He hopes that these technological developments can spurn growth spurts in art and artistic expression.

We look forward to seeing how the intersection between art and technology evolves in 2023, and to seeing how Masanto continues to leverage his unique position at the intersection of both markets, to drive art forward.

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