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Schoolboy makes £290,000 selling weird whales NFTs – but has important advice

A 12-year-old boy has earned around £290,000 during the school holidays after creating a series of pixelated artworks called Weird Whales.

Benyamin Ahmed, from London, sold non-fungible tokens (NFTs) after he created the works, which allow artwork to be "tokenised" to create a digital certificate of ownership that can be bought and sold – but they do not usually give the buyer the actual artwork or any of its copyright.

The young artist has never had a traditional bank account. Instead, he is keeping his earnings in the form of crypto-currency Ethereum, which is how they were sold.

His choice means his £290k could go up or down in value – and there's no back-up from the authorities if his digital wallet is hacked or compromised.

But he could become the youngest person to make a million dollars in cryptocurrency, if he continues to sell his NFTs.

The schoolboy's classmates remain unaware of Benyamin's new-found wealth, but he has made YouTube videos about his hobby.

He told the BBC: "My advice to other children that maybe want to get into this space is don't force yourself to do coding, maybe because you get peer pressured – just as if you like cooking, do cooking, if you like dancing, do dances, just do it to the best of your ability."

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Benyamin's father, Imran, is a software developer who works in traditional finance.

He encouraged Benyamin and his brother, Yousef, to start coding at the ages of five and six.

The proud father said: "It was a little bit of a fun exercise – but I picked up on really early that they were really receptive to it and they were really good.

"So then we started getting a little bit more serious – and now it's every single day… but you can't cram this stuff, you can't say I'm going to learn coding in three months."

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He said his sons would do 20 or 30 minutes of coding exercises a day, including when they went on holiday.

Benyamin's first digital-art collection came in the form of an earlier Minecraft-inspired set, but this sold less well.

For Weird Whales, he was inspired by a well-known pixelated whale meme image and a popular digital-art style, but he used his own program to create the set of 3,350 emoji-type whales.

He said: "It was interesting to see all of them hatch, as they appeared on my screen slowly generating."

Benyamin is now working on his third collection of digital artwork under a superhero theme.

He would also like to make an "underwater game" featuring the whales.

"That would be amazing," he said.

Imran is "100% certain" his son has not broken copyright law and has engaged lawyers to "audit" his work, as well as getting advice on how to trademark his own designs.

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