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eBay Releases NFTs of Wayne Gretzky in Move Toward Digital Collectibles

The hockey great's image from Sports Illustrated is interpreted in digital artwork offered as NFTs on eBay.

eBay logo on a phone that's lying on a computer keyboard
Ebay will offer NFTs of various sports greats throughout the year, the company said Monday.
Angela Lang/CNET

eBay is well known as a place to buy collectibles. On Monday, the e-commerce and resale mainstay began took its collectibles digital, offering NFTs featuring NHL great Wayne Gretzky.

The NFTs are digital interpretations of Sports Illustrated covers. They range in price between $10 and $1,500. 

The company says it will release NFTs of Sports Illustrated covers graced by other sports greats throughout the year. The NFTs are the result of a partnership with OneOf, a platform for music- and sports-related NFTs.

"This builds upon our commitment to deliver high passion, high value items to the eBay community of buyers and sellers," said Dawn Block, eBay's vice president of collectibles, electronics and home.

The new sports-themed NFTs come as overall sales of the digital artworks have slowed and some high-profile NFTs have lost value. The digital images, marked as singular using blockchain technology, have spawned a volatile market that's largely underwritten by cryptocurrency investors. At the same time, businesses are still clamoring to get on board the trend. GameStop plans to launch an NFT marketplace later this year and said Monday it's also creating digital wallets for cryptocurrency and NFTs. The NFL offers NFTs of game highlight video clips. A photographer raised funds for bulletproof vests sent to Ukraine by selling NFTs of his photos.

Tangible sports collectibles, like trading cards, are popular on eBay, with basketball and hockey cards showing some of the highest growth in sales in 2020. The company said millions of trading cards, including sports cards, sold on its site that year. Physical Wayne Gretzky rookie cards are listed on eBay for prices between about $650 and $1,700. 

Gretzky first appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1981. In a statement Monday, he said the Sports Illustrated cover was "monumental" in his life, adding, "I'm honored to bring this collectible experience to my hockey fans who have followed my career for decades."

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