Gary Vee’s NFT Fest is coming to Minneapolis

What do you get when you mix and match a series of random internet famous celebrities – from Liam Payne of the dearly departed One Direction and the infamous Logan Paul, to the latest TikTok viral users and crypto artists – with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) , and put them all together at US Bank Stadium? The result is VeeConthe first paid NFT conference of its kind.

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk (co-founder of restaurant reservation company Resy), also known as Gary Vee, is hosting his NFT Festival in the Twin Cities from May 19-22. The conference recently announced its schedule, which in addition to Paul and Payne includes actress Mila Kunis, Clerks director Kevin Smith, TikTok celebrity sisters Dixie and Charli D’Amelio, the digital artist known as Beeple who sold an NFT for $69 millionAndy Chorlian (self-proclaimed “NFT Responder”), and dozens of others.

NFTs are basically units of data or pieces of digital content stored on the blockchain and purchasable with cryptocurrencies (not without controversy for their possible environmental impact), which, according to Vaynerchuk, will be part of our daily lives in no sooner than 20 years. Your train tickets, your sports tickets, your plane tickets, even your profile pictures, soon all of these things will become NFTs.

Here’s the catch to attending VeeCon: A customer’s ticket to the NFT conference is one of Vaynerchuk’s own NFTs. Vaynerchuk released his NFT collection of 10,255 VeeFriends character tokens accessible through the Ethereum cryptocurrency in May 2021. According to Vaynerchuk, more than half of these NFTs were selling for $2,000 at the time. Now, eight months later, owners of VeeFriends NFTs are trading them on the secondary market for 130 ETH ($503,000) at the high and 17.28 ETH ($65,800) at the low.

Those who are successful enough to have scored a VeeFriends NFT have also scored themselves a three-year VeeCons ticket (the VeeFriends NFT works as a ticket to Vaynerchuk conferences alongside other exclusive benefits). Vaynerchuk expects most of those 10,225 VeeFriends NFT holders to attend VeeCon 2022.

So why is Minneapolis ground zero for VeeCon? Vaynerchuk says he respects the city’s business DNA and there’s “a lot of good entrepreneurial spirit and creativity” here. Vaynerchuk is a minority owner of the Call of Duty esports league Minnesota Rokkr, which helped him decide to host the conference here. He added that he is a Vikings fan. Compared to other teams, “they don’t bother me,” he says. So there is this.

Expect performances, fireside chats, speeches and a demonstration of NFT smart contract technology in action. Vaynerchuk tweeted that he plans to meet with all conference attendees within three days of it being held.

When I caught up with Vaynerchuk on Zoom to talk about VeeCon and the future of NFTs, I asked him why he thought NFTs would be part of everyday life. His answer ? It’s a better experience. “There’s no reason why it shouldn’t,” Vaynerchuk tells me.

Take concert tickets, for example. Turning your Lizzo concert ticket into an NFT creates an opportunity for the venue, the artist, and the attendees, says Vaynerchuk, because that NFT concert ticket can become a collectible that the attendee can sell, and the artist or attendee place obtains a royalty through this operation.

After reading about NFTs and how they play out in our digital world, I like to think of them as an extension of collectibles in a rapidly digital and social currency-driven world. Not everything that becomes an NFT will inherently increase in value, but artists, celebrities, and other notables can use NFTs to further interact with and benefit from their fan base, while fans have the right to boast that they own the NFT of a work by their favorite artist.

Many celebrities, including performers from VeeCon programming, have jumped on the NFT craze. Mila Kunis has her own cartoon which viewers can watch if they own one of his “Stoner Cat” NFTs. Reese Witherspoon has become the subject of recent backlash on Twitter after tweeting about cryptocurrency and digital identities. And Jimmy Fallon bought an NFT in November of a cartoon monkey for $225,000.

Vaynerchuk compares the current dawn of NFTs and the “hysteria” around them to the dawn of the internet when people bought stocks for random websites like and a bubble ensued. At first there was a bubble, but then investors realized the internet was here to stay.

“NFTs are the internet, and the internet has affected every aspect of everyone’s life. The sooner you got there, the more value you could have gotten out of it. I promise you,” he says, “a lot more people said that the internet was a fad that there are those who say NFTs are a fad, because people weren’t even comfortable with any level of technology back then.

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