NFTs in the art world were worth about $2.8 billion in cumulative value in 2021, according to a tally by NonFungible.
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 to “democratize art”.
“Not everyone has $100,000, or a million, to invest. Hence this idea of creating some kind of mutual fund” 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).
And if “the work loses value?”
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 goal is purely 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 by 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.
worth $2.8 billion
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 immense, the Ministry of Culture said it was 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, running around “non-fungible tokens”.
Cinello sells a high-definition digital reproduction of the work, which is contained in an electronic box that is given to the buyer. This box is connected to a screen with the dimensions of the work, surrounded by a handmade frame that displays 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.
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.”