Digital tokens: NFTs are looking for their place in the art world

PublishedAugust 20, 2022, 09:47

Digital tokensNFTs are looking for their place in the art world

In 2021, the art world’s total NFT value was around $2.8 billion, or about 2.68 billion francs.

NFTs invite themselves into art, in particular the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

AFP / Illustrative photo

Despite the smell of sulfur hanging over the world of cryptocurrencies, some investors and experimenters are trying to introduce NFTs, digital tokens based on the same technology as cryptocurrencies, into the world of art galleries and museums. Virtually cutting the picture into small squares, each linked to an NFT: this is what Artessere, a company created by Anaida Schneider, a former banker from Liechtenstein, offers.

Each NFT, a kind of electronic certificate of ownership, sells for between 100 and 200 euros (96 to 192 francs), allowing, in the latter’s opinion, “the democratization of art.” “Not everyone has $100,000 (about 95,867 francs) or a million to invest. Hence the idea of ​​creating some kind of mutual fund, “allowing you to invest in very real work based on blockchain technology,” she told AFP.

“Blockchains” or block chains are a kind of huge digital ledgers shared by many users, without a central authority, and considered untamperable. They were glorified by crypto-currencies based on this technology.

Total value added

Artessere launched last year and offers works by representatives of nonconformist Soviet art such as Oleg Tselkov (1934-2021) and Shimon Okshtein (1951-2020). According to Anaida Schneider, Artessere plans to keep the paintings for no more than ten years before selling them on the market.

The added value will then be shared between the owners of the NFT paintings. But what happens if the work loses its value or is destroyed? “We are insured,” Schneider says. Regarding the possible loss of value, “we believe that this will not happen. We are experts. We know what we are doing,” she says.

The former banker denies that her goal is only speculative and insists that her project fully complies with Liechtenstein’s 2019 “blockchain” law. law governing activities based on this technology.

Exploit the vein…or not

According to a Q1 survey of more than 300 collectors conducted by the Art+Tech Report website, about 21% of them started buying NFTs that are part of art.

According to a report by the French company NonFungible, the cumulative value of NFTs in the art world in 2021 was about $2.8 billion. However, the uncertainty that still surrounds the NFT-related rights associated with a work of art discourage public museums from taking advantage of this vein.

Digital Leonardo da Vinci

In Italy, where the artistic heritage is huge, the Ministry of Culture has said it is suspending its art-related NFT projects due to a lack of legal certainty. One company, Cinello, has signed contracts with Italian museums to sell digital reproductions of their art.

But an associated NFT is just one of the options offered to the buyer, Cinello emphasizes, seeking to distance himself from the run around “non-fungible tokens.” Cinello sells a high-resolution digital reproduction of the work, which is contained in an electronic box handed over to the customer. This body is connected to a artwork-sized screen surrounded by a hand-crafted bezel that reproduces the original bezel.

“Used Incorrectly”

The digital reproduction is protected by a code system and provided with a certificate of authenticity, which, if necessary and at the request of the buyer, can be supplemented with NFT. Cinello points out that he has already digitized 200 works, including works by illustrious masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, and claims that his reproductions have already generated €296,000 in revenue for partner Italian museums.

In general, the founder of Cinello, 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 of them are “misused.”


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