The initiative of the Paris studio LCD Lab aims to bridge the gap between Web3 and physical art: behind the promises, the collective’s communication also raises questions.
The Solana blockchain’s NFT community has been trembling since this August 23 announcement by the Paris collective LCD Lab, which promises “a new generation of collectors will gain access to Banksy’s work (…) thanks to NFT technology on Magic Eden.” “. In fact, on September 17, LCD Lab will offer for sale 1,000 NFTs by the artist Léo Caillard, tokens whose particularity is individually associated by the studio with an edition of a Banksy Walled Off Box Set, a series of works usually reserved for clients of the Walled Off Hotel, the establishment created by the artist in Bethlehem. These were acquired over time by gallery owner and LCD Lab member Baptiste Ozenne. After the sale, the holder of the NFT is faced with a choice: keep or destroy the virtual token to get the promised work back.
For the initiators of this project entitled “Banksy Radar Rats by LCD Lab” it is above all an experiment: “LCD Lab is above all a laboratory”, assures the studio co-founder. “Given the bear market and the difficulty of selling out collections, we agreed on the importance of pairing the release of an NFT with a physical work by an artist like Banksy, who really speaks to everyone and has some market value.”
No official association
Indeed, despite his pseudonym, it is difficult to be better known than Banksy, famous for his stencils, his activism and… the price of some of his works, the most expensive of which was awarded at 11.1 million euros in 2019. new price of LCD Lab’s NFT (1,000 euros, payable in SOL cryptocurrency), the proposal is enough to make your mouth water. Probably a bit too much… “The artist Banksy has just joined forces with the LCD Lab company”, we could read in Le Journal du Geek, or even “Banksy will join forces with Magic Eden and the LCD Lab in August 2022 to first artistic collection in NFT” at Arts in the City… But in a communication to JDN, Pest Control (organization that guarantees the authentication of the artist’s works) is clear: “The artist Banksy did not create NFTs. Any auction of NFTs on behalf of Banksy is in no way affiliated with the artist.” Where does this confusion come from? LCD Lab recognizes a “communication that is sometimes misunderstood and interpreted as if Banksy was behind the project”. “It has nothing to do with the project and we want to be transparent about it,” continues Baptiste Ozenne.
Collector, curator and NFT expert Brian Beccafico doesn’t want to put the studio to shame: “It’s hard to put LCD Lab in charge of their communication: people hear what they want, especially in the NFT sector, so I’m not saying that they are unfair, but it is certain that the name Banksy will be used as leverage when this brand ultimately does not belong to them.If the project can remember that of visual artist Damien Hirst, who will burn several thousand physical works from 9 September that previously bought in NFT version by collectors, “the fundamental difference is that Hirst is part of the project from start to finish. When Banksy made these editions, he never imagined it would be used in this context,” emphasizes Beccafico.
“When Banksy made these editions, he never imagined it would be used in this setting”
However, if the initiative raises legitimate questions about the appropriation of a work and intellectual property, the promised physical works are genuine and legally purchased by the studio. In addition, to reassure potential buyers, with the Box Set LCD Lab guarantees the delivery of a certificate of authenticity by the hotel and has enlisted the services of Jean-Marc Scialom, expert in urban art for the house auction house Blanchet & Associés. According to the latter, also the holder of NFT in a personal capacity, “the people who embarked on this adventure are art lovers and collectors of Banksy’s work; somewhere they are having fun. The graphic creations of the NFTs that they are going to issue are also successful.” Baptiste Ozenne also refutes opportunism: “We want the holders of this token to be able to take advantage of many exclusive offers. The NFT also embodies a pass for our platform and our next drops as well as for our other digital companies, such as Urban NFT, the platform of the annual Urban Art Fair festival in the Carreau du Temple in Paris. In this context, this gives access to drops.”
A million dollar recipe
With a successful, and therefore complete, sale, the studio will raise one million euros, an amount from which the purchase of the Box Sets must be deducted, according to Baptiste Ozenne. “In addition, the Magic Eden platform (where the coin will be located, editor’s note) takes 6% on the whole drop and we have to pay all the people who accompanied us, especially in communication.” Finally, LCD Lab also promises to “share 10% of the profit from the sale with the Walled Off Hotel for the organization of the city art festival “Face The Wall” in Bethlehem” (contacted, hotel did not respond to JDN’s request). Ironically given the current state of the NFT market, it is the expectation of traditional collectors that could be enough to ensure the success of the sale. “I didn’t wait for this event to sell Walled Off Boxes, I sell a lot of them every year at different art fairs, in Miami, London or Paris, and it’s always the same excitement,” concludes Baptiste Ozen.