Apparently, you can put a price tag on friendship: $51,530.
Back in 2015, Asif Rasa Rana of Gujranwala, Pakistan, announced on Facebook that he was no longer friends with Mudasir Ismail Ahmed — and instead was now best friends with Salman Ahmad Naqash.
Since then, the post — featuring a crudely edited image of Rana and Naqash shaking hands, accompanied by two photos of Ahmed crossed out and bold text overlaid declaring the change in friendships — went viral, with social media users using the image as a template for memes about breakups, political controversies and even diplomacy issues.
Now, six years after Rana and Ahmed parted ways on Facebook, the “Friendship ended with Mudasir” meme was auctioned off as one of Pakistan’s first meme NFTs (nonfungible tokens) for $51,530, or 20 Ether, the currency on the crypto platform Ethereum.
The NFT sale was conducted by a startup called Alter on the digital art marketplace Foundation. A large portion of the auction earnings will go to Rana and his friends, with a minor portion going to Alter.
“I would never have known that [the post] would go so viral and that it would spread all over the world,” Rana told Vice of the original post. In it, Rana claimed that Ahmed was “very selfish, Proudy [sic] … shows me Attitude.” And in another post, he added, “Friendship is not a toy to play.”
According to Ahmed, he and Rana were so focused on one another that if either met with other friends, the other would feel hurt and offended.
Since the post went viral, Rana and Ahmed have made up, and the two friends embraced Naqash as their third pal. Soon after the breakup, Rana made another post, stating, “Friendship regain [sic] with Mudasir. Now Mudasir & Salman both are my best friends.” The reconciliation meme may also soon go up for auction.
“So many news agencies interviewed us. We’ve even had a cartoon made about us,” Rana told Vice. “The people of Poland love it so much. I received Polish visa offers from two or three people. They even wrote my name on the walls there.”
But Ahmed acknowledged that he cannot even remember what the feud was about back then.
Although the meme does not hold true to the three anymore, Rana plans to create similar memes to auction off in the future. The auction of the original meme and Rana’s entrepreneurial spirit have been breakthroughs for digital creators in Pakistan, who lacked opportunities to sell their work as NFTs.
The trio now refers to themselves as “the lads of Gujranwala.” Naqash currently works as a model, while Rana and Ahmed each got married — and are spending more time with their wives than with each other.
An NFT is a crypto asset that represents an intangible digital item such as an image or video. NFT owners are recorded on blockchain, meaning that NFTs can be traded as stand-ins for the digital assets they represent.
NFT sales surged to $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, up from just $13.7 million in the first half of 2020. And plenty of others have taken advantage of the NFT craze. A Polish influencer recently sold her love as an NFT for $250,000. An NFT of a digital artwork called a CryptoPunk — a set of 10,000 pixel-art characters made by Larva Labs in 2017 — sold for a whopping $11.8 million in June.