2015 NFT Art Pioneer — Harm van den Dorpel

Adam McBride
3 min readSep 21, 2021


Screengrab of Harm’s Opensea collection Mutant Garden Seeder

There are only a handful of early artists that NFT archeologists can look back upon and say “wow, that was a pioneer.”

For me, the first one I dug into deeply was Rhea Meyers who’s forward-thinking work on Bitcoin set the stage for artists to now thrive on Ethereum.

Now, it’s Harm van den Dorpel.

I’m not a digital artist. I’m just an artist — Harm van den Dorpel

When I first learned that Harm began putting artworks onto Bitcoin in 2015, I got very excited.

Monaco Mix — Rita Vitorelli (22 drawings)
and Harm van den Dorpel (programming), 2016

With the rise of Emblem Vault and its ability to enable users to safely list Bitcoin NFTs on Ethereum — and hence Opensea — I understood that there’s a thriving market for these early works.

Just one problem.

Lost Access

Harm and his gallery used a somewhat visionary service called Ascribe to list the NFTs on Bitcoin. The issue is that Ascribe went out of business in 2017, taking Harm’s access to the NFTs with it.

Fortunately, Harm is in contact with the founder of Ascribe and is very hopeful that the artworks can be salvaged.

But what happens to the Bitcoin artwork if Harm has already reissued the art on Ethereum?

The Dilemma

So is the art on Bitcoin or Ethereum the real art?

And who gets to decide?

These are a couple of the questions that are difficult for both artists and collectors to answer. I suspect this situation will invite much discussion and debate over the coming years as more of these types of works are rediscovered.

Many collectors — and holders of Harm’s work on Ethereum — that I spoke with were excited about the possibility for them to choose which version of the artwork they get to keep, with the other version getting burned.

This sets up an interesting dynamic, will collectors value the earlier Bitcoin NFTs or choose the Ethereum version with the later contract date?

Other collectors were happy for Harm to simply burn all of the Bitcoin art. While still others thought owners of the Ethereum NFTs should also receive the Bitcoin NFTs.

Harm has not finalized any decisions as he is still working through what all of this means.

It’s important that the way we migrate these works is done in a way that is future-proof — Harm van den Dorpel

The first step is to get access to the Bitcoin NFTs.

What will happen after that?

I suspect Harm’s pioneering spirit will lead to something great.

Interview with Harm — The Details

This is my full interview with Harm where we get into all the details of his work on Bitcoin and the movement to Ethereum.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/nft-art-pioneer-harm-van-den-dorpel/id1410811576?i=1000536170608

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/0NGC563hgIRtgNxOiaoIQS?si=14f2eb25599f4461



Adam McBride

Passionate about humans, freedom, and how crypto empowers both.