‘Disaster Girl’ Zoe Roth Turns Her Meme Into $500,000 NFT


‘Disaster Girl’ Zoe Roth, famous as the little girl smiling while a house burns in a popular Internet meme, has made almost $500,000 (roughly Rs. 3.7 crores) by selling a original copy of the meme as a non-fungible token (NFT). The picture clicked in 2005 shows a four-year-old Zoe Roth standing in the foreground, smirking almost devilishly while a house appeared to be on fire in the background. Roth went on to become one of the most viral meme faces on the internet. No matter what the tragedy, the “disaster girl”, as she is referred to now, was seen everywhere.

From standing in front of the sinking Titanic to being present in the war room where former US President Barack Obama, along with other officials, monitored the airstrike on Osama Bin Laden to even the nuclear attack on Japan, her memes were repurposed into thousands of parodies and became the base for expressing one’s gain from someone else’s ill luck. Now, she’s found a way to make something for herself out of the (in)famous image.

Roth said she would use the $500,000 (roughly Rs. 3.7 crores) to fund her college education and donate to charity. She will retain the copyright over the NFT, and will get a 10 per cent share every time it’s sold in future. The auction was carried out on Foundation App.

Disaster Girl’s rise to Internet fame

In 2005, when a four-year-old Zoe Roth ran out in her neighbourhood, followed by her father, David Roth, who held a camera, little did anyone know that they were going to create one of the most familiar meme faces of the 21st century. Her father clicked a few pictures as she turned around and smiled. One of the pictures was published in 2008 and that’s how the Internet discovered the “disaster girl”. According to a report in the New York Times, the blaze in the photograph was a controlled one, and the firefighters that day even allowed kids to hold the hose one after another.

Another NFT in recent memory:

Just last week, Seth Phillips, the man who stands with placards protesting against relatable issues, decided to convert some of his works into a collection of NFTs and auction them. His unique Instagram account (@Dudewithsign) that has photos of the him standing with these funny, relatable placards about annoying day-to-day problems has piqued the attention of many users online. So, Phillips, who has over 7.5 million followers on Instagram, decided to make the most of his digital assets — him posing with his placards — by turning them into his very own collection of NFTs.

Phillips said that a month ago everyone was discussing NFT while he had no idea about it. This was around the same time when Beeple, a digital artist, sold a jpeg file — a digital image — for $69 million (roughly Rs. 501 crores), through a first-of-its-kind auction via Christie’s auction house. That’s when it dawned upon him to make it an NFT of him posing with his placards.

His first collection includes a badge, with the first 157 signs. Another one has an opportunity to accompany Seth with a sign or a placard. The collection also includes the original picture which, had Seth not thought about launching his NFTs, would have gone online.

We dive into all things Apple — iPad Pro, iMac, Apple TV 4K, and AirTag — this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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