NFTs find their place in the art world

Even with the reluctance around cryptocurrency, NFTs are trying to appeal to the classic art through cheap selling.

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 allows “democratize art”. “Not everyone has $100,000 or a million to invest. Hence this idea of ​​creating some kind of mutual fund. making it possible to invest in a very real work, based on the technology of the “blockchain”, she told AFP. The “blockchain”, or blockchains, are a type of huge digital registers that are shared by a large number of users, with no central authority and known to be tamper-proof. They were made famous by cryptocurrencies, which are based on this technology.

“We know what we are doing”

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 possible loss of value, “We don’t think that will happen. We are experts. We know what we are doing”, she says. The former banker denies that her purpose is merely speculative and assures that her project will break the law on the “blockchain”, adopted 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 an option offered to the buyer, underlines Cinello, eager to stand out from the excitement surrounding the “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 protected by a code system and provided with a certificate of authenticity that, 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.

In general, the founder of Cinello, the computer engineer Francesco Losi, is still skeptical about the potential of NFTs in the field of art. “I’m not saying NFTs will disappear”, he told AFP, but many are “used in the wrong way”.

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