Updated March 3, 2022 - 7:34 am
Digitally, that is.
Circa is getting set to launch a Vegas Vickie NFT collection that it says will make it the first Las Vegas casino on the blockchain. The collection will feature a neon portrait of the iconic sign that was painted inside the casino earlier this year by artist Jason Borbet, who is known in the art world as Borbay.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital assets that are generated, minted and distributed on a blockchain that have unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from each other.
“It’s a really cool way for someone to have a piece of Las Vegas that’s a digital piece of Las Vegas,” Borbay said.
Borbay specializes in neon paintings, a style he gravitated to in part because of a personal fascination with the neon signs like those that have long illuminated the night skies of Las Vegas.
“It grabs your attention and creates a mood and an atmosphere. When you walk down Fremont Street you just feel this energy. It’s unparalleled,” Borbay said.
How Borbay ended up painting Vegas Vickie in the first place was a bit of good timing and good luck that eventually led him to Jeff Victor, Circa vice president of operations.
Victor ran into a few loyal Circa customers at the nearby Golden Gate, which is also owned by Circa owner Derek Stevens, as they were talking about Vegas Vickie.
Victor, who previously worked as the president of Fremont Street Experience, has a long history with the sign and was instrumental in salvaging, refurbishing and finding the sign its new home in Circa’s central atrium.
‘It literally stopped me in my tracks’
The customers told Victor that they were friends with an artist who specializes in paintings of neon signs and who had become enamored with Vegas Vickie when he saw it inside Circa last year. That friend, of course, was Borbay.
“When I saw Vickie the first time, it literally stopped me in my tracks,” Borbay said. “As soon as I saw it, I told my friends that we have to figure this out. All I had to do was see Vickie, and I had to paint her.”
Borbay and Victor started talking and soon enough the idea for the portrait, which now resides on the 60th floor of Circa inside the resort’s Legacy Club rooftop lounge, was born.
“It’s staggering,” Borbay said about his work now being part of the annals of Las Vegas. “It gives me goosebumps to think that I could even be a footnote in the history of Vegas.”
The idea to turn the portrait into an NFT was not something Victor or Circa CEO Derek Stevens was considering until it was brought to them by Borbay, who said the NFT market is for artists what the booming real estate market is for real estate agents — a lot of unknowns and a lot of opportunity. ‘
Community and authenticity
Victor said they want to stay true to the authentic and organic nature of the NFT artist community and aren’t looking to jump in just to make a profit.
“The NFT space, first and foremost, is for the artist and the collector community. It’s really not a place for a business to go in and intentionally try and make a cash grab,” Victor said.
Stevens sees Circa’s role in the Vegas Vickie NFT world more on the utility side. In NFT terms, utility refers to an additional use for the digital asset, such as using it to access exclusive in-person meet-ups. Stevens said he wants to be able to give the community a central location where they can meet each other in person at the property, creating that shared experience.
“I think the fact that we have the original painting here gives us some authenticity. It kind of creates a home property for this community,” Stevens said.
Many of the details on Circa’s NFTs are still being ironed out, such as what the NFTs will actually be, when they’ll be minted and what their utility will be. But Victor said they expect to see them “fairly soon.”