Digital Tokens: NFTs Find Their Place in the Art World


Digital TokensNFTs find their place in the art world

The art world’s NFTs represented a cumulative value of approximately $2.8 billion in 2021, or about 2.68 billion francs.

The NFTs invite themselves to art, especially with works by Leonardo da Vinci.

AFP / Illustrative photo

Despite the smell of sulfur that hangs over the world of cryptocurrencies, some investors and researchers are trying to 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 with a NFT: This is what Artessere offers, a company founded by Anaida Schneider, a former banker from Liechtenstein.

Each NFT, a kind of electronic property certificate, is sold for 100 to 200 euros (between 96 and 192 francs), which, according to the latter, makes it possible to “democratize art”. “Not everyone has $100,000 (about 95,867 francs) or a million to invest. Hence this idea of ​​creating a kind of mutual fund “that allows one to invest in a very real work, based on the technology of” blockchain”, she told AFP.

“Blockchains”, or chains of blocks, are types of huge digital registers shared by a large number of users, with no central authority and considered non-falsifiable. They were made famous by cryptocurrencies, which are based on this technology.

Shared added value

Artessere started last year and offers works by representatives of non-conformist Soviet art, such as Oleg Tselkov (1934 – 2021) and Shimon Okshteyn (1951-2020). According to Anaida Schneider, Artessere plans to keep the paintings for up to ten years before selling 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 the potential loss of value: “We believe this will not happen. We are experts. We know what we’re doing,” she says.

The former banker denies that her goal is merely speculative and assures that her project is fully compliant with the “blockchain” law passed by Liechtenstein in 2019. The principality and tax haven was one of the first countries in the world to pass a specific law. to regulate activities based on this technology.

Make use of the vein… or not

According to a first quarter survey from the Art+Tech Report website of more than 300 collectors, about 21% of them had started buying NFTs that represent a fraction of a work of art.

NFTs in the art world represented a cumulative value of about $2.8 billion in 2021, according to a report by French company NonFungible. However, the vagueness that still surrounds the rights attached to an NFT attached to a work of art prevents public museums from exploiting the artery.

A digital Leonardo da Vinci

In Italy, where the artistic heritage is huge, the Ministry of Culture has stated that it is suspending its projects to create NFTs linked to works of art due to lack of legal certainty. A company, Cinello, has signed contracts with Italian museums to sell digital reproductions of their art treasures.

But the accompanying NFT is just one option on offer to the buyer, Cinello underlines, eager to distance himself from the runaway “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 connected to a screen the size of the work, surrounded by a handmade frame that mimics the original frame.

“used in the wrong way”

The digital reproduction is secured by a code system and comes with a certificate of authenticity which, if necessary and if the buyer so requests, can be supplemented with an NFT. Cinello says it has already digitized 200 works, including those by illustrious masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, and claims his reproductions have already brought in €296,000 in revenue to Italian partner museums.

Overall, Cinello’s founder, computer engineer Francesco Losi, is still skeptical about the potential of NFTs in the arts. “I’m not saying NFTs will disappear,” he told AFP, but many are “misused.”


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