Digital tokensNFTs are looking for their place in the art world
Art world NFTs represented a cumulative value of approximately $2.8 billion or approximately CHF2.68 billion in 2021.
Despite the smell of sulfur hanging over the cryptocurrency world, some investors and experimenters are trying to introduce them NFT – digital tokens based on the same technology as cryptocurrencies – in the world of art galleries and museums. Virtually cut a painting into small squares, each associated with one NFT: This is what Artessere offers, a company founded by Anaida Schneider, a former banker from Liechtenstein.
Each NFT, a type of electronic certificate of ownership, is sold for 100 to 200 euros (between 96 and 192 francs), which, according to the latter, allows for a “democratization of art”. “Not everyone has $100,000 or a million to invest. Hence this idea of creating a kind of mutual fund “that allows investing in a very real work based on the technology of ‘blockchain’,” she told AFP.
“Blockchains,” or chains of blocks, are vast digital registers shared by a multitude of users, with no central authority, and are said to be unforgeable. They became famous thanks to cryptocurrencies based on this technology.
Shared added value
Artessere launched last year and features works by exponents of nonconformist Soviet art such as Oleg Tselkov (1934-2021) and Shimon Okshteyn (1951-2020). According to Anaida Schneider, Artessere plans to keep the paintings for a maximum of ten years before reselling them on the market.
The added value is then shared between the owners of the NFTs of the paintings. But what happens if the work loses its value or is destroyed? “We are insured,” says Schneider. As for potential depreciation, “we don’t think that’s going to happen. We are experts. We know what we’re doing,” she says.
The former banker denies that her goal is only speculative and assures that her project fully respects the “blockchain” law passed by Liechtenstein in 2019. The principality and tax haven was one of the first countries in the world to approve a specific law regulating activities based on this technology.
Exploit the vein… or not
According to a Q1 survey of more than 300 collectors by the Art+Tech Report website, about 21% of them had started buying NFTs that represent a fraction of a work of art.
According to a report by French company NonFungible, NFTs represented a total value of around $2.8 billion in the art world in 2021. However, the vagueness that still surrounds the rights to an NFT associated with an artwork keeps public museums from it from using the vein.
A digital Leonardo da Vinci
In Italy, where the artistic heritage is immense, the Ministry of Culture has announced that it is suspending its projects to create NFTs linked to works of art due to a lack of legal certainty. One company, Cinello, has signed deals with Italian museums to sell digital reproductions of their art treasures.
But the associated NFT is just one option offered to the buyer, emphasizes Cinello, who wants to distance himself from the outlier by “non-fungible tokens”. Cinello sells a high-resolution digital reproduction of the work contained in an electronic box given to the buyer. This case is associated with a screen the size of the work, surrounded by a handcrafted frame that reproduces the original frame.
The digital reproduction is protected by a code system and comes with a certificate of authenticity, which can be supplemented with an NFT if necessary and at the buyer’s request. Cinello claims to have already digitized 200 works, including those by famous masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, and claims that his reproductions have already brought in €296,000 for Italian partner museums.
In general, Cinello’s founder, computer engineer Francesco Losi, is still skeptical about the potential of NFTs in the field of art. “I’m not saying NFTs will go away,” he told AFP, but many are “misused.”
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