LOS ANGELES — Jesus Martinez's art piece "Genesis" sold for $38,000.

It’s a fitting title because the piece is the genesis of the decentralized artist's career in non fungible tokens, or NFTs.

What You Need To Know

  • Jesus Martinez sold his first NFT art "Genesis" for over $38,000

  • "Genesis" is now valued at more than $80,000

  • A poll conducted in August by Harris Poll found that 23% of Black Americans and 16% of Hispanic Americans own cryptocurrencies

  • By comparison, only 11% of white Americans own any digital coins, according to the poll

"Right here, we start as a seed of life. Everything starts as a seed, whether it’s plants or us as babies or little seeds," said Martinez.

NFTs are unique digital assets, like art, that are bought and sold using cryptocurrency on a digital transaction system called the blockchain.

"Genesis" is now valued at more than $80,000, which is a big deal for Martinez. He grew up in a low-income working-class family that sold flowers on the streets of Los Angeles.

It's afforded Martinez the opportunity to support his parents.

"It’s very life-fulfilling to do that and see your parents, they sacrifice so much, and you know you can provide for them now," he said.

With the rise of digital currency, the future of money is changing, and Martinez has found its appeal as a new path to wealth and equity versus traditional systems that often excluded or exploited marginalized communities.

David Carey, senior vice president of Hearst and a close friend and supporter of Martinez, noted that when it comes to this new frontier, there is also a disconnect between the generations.

"Crypto in general, you find the heads of the big banks and John Paulson, the person who made a zillion dollars during the great recession, saying it’s going to go to zero, and then you have a large number of [younger] people who consider this decentralized finance to be the way for the future," said Carey.

Martinez has found a path through crypto and NFT art that is lifting his family out of poverty. But giving back doesn’t end with his parents. As an up-and-coming artist, he wants to use his platform to fulfill his dream of becoming a philanthropist.

"I know how hard it is for a low-income person with no connections, no financial backing, to do something in the world," he said. "I feel like if I have the opportunity to have the resources to do it as I get older, then I’m going to do it."

It’s just the genesis of Martinez's journey, but every step of the way is a chance to spread light to humanity through his art.