NFTs find their place in the classical art world

Despite the smell of sulfur that hangs over the world of cryptocurrencies, some investors and researchers are trying to introduce NFTs – digital tokens based on the same technology as cryptocurrencies – to the world of art galleries and museums.

Virtually cutting a painting into small squares, each linked to an NFT: that’s what Artessere, a company founded by Anaida Schneider, a former banker from Liechtenstein offers.

Each NFT, a type of electronic property certificate, is sold for 100 to 200 euros, which the latter says makes it possible to “democratize art”.

“Not everyone has $100,000, or a million, to invest. Hence this idea of ​​creating some sort of mutual fund” allowing her to invest in a very real work, based on the technology of the “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.

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 don’t think it will happen. We’re experts. We know what we’re doing,” she says.

The former banker denies that her aim is merely 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 pass a specific law to regulate activities based on this technology.

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.

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 digital Leonardo da Vinci

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 offered to the buyer, underlines Cinello, who is eager to stand out from the excitement surrounding “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.

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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