In March, when digital artist Beeple sold an NFT for $69 million, Marvel and DC laid down a strict rule cautioning other artists not to try their luck with Batman or other superhero characters from their comics universe.

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The move by Marvel and DC to ban artists from creating NFTs is driven by the companies’ own desire to enter the highly lucrative NFT space and maintain strict ownership of their intellectual property, according to Coin Telegraph.

In February, Marvel began selling an NFT of the Spider-Man character, fetching $25,000 on, a platform for rare art built on the Ethereum blockchain. More than 20 other pieces have been auctioned on Portion by Marvel artists like Dan Panosian, Matteo Scalera, Dave Johnson, Andy Kubert and Eric Canete.

But the ban is seen as a serious impediment for artists who sell valuable collectibles based on derivative work of Marvel and DC characters — one that will prevent them from accessing an important source of revenue. To soften the blow, Marvel is apparently receptive to giving artists secondary revenue opportunities on VeVe, an app for digital collectibles.

NFTs have recently exploded in popularity in the art world, with Visa spending $150,000 on the mohawk-sporting character CryptoPunk #7610 this summer. 

This November, Russia’s iconic State Hermitage Museum will host an online-only research exhibition featuring “born-digital” NFT artwork. The Saint Petersburg-based museum recently used the Binance NFT Marketplace to acquire $440,500 from five Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci masterpieces.

Nonetheless, despite sales of NFTs climbing to $4 billion on the NFT marketplace OpenSea in August, last week sales plummeted by 50%.