the intriguing proposal of a Parisian collective

The initiative of the Parisian studio LCD Lab aims to build a bridge between the Web3 and physical art: behind the promises, even the communication of the collective raises questions.

The NFT community of the Solana blockchain vibrates from this announcement by the Parisian collective LCD Lab on August 23, which promises “a new generation of collectors to access Banksy’s work (…) thanks to NFT technology on Magic Eden”. On September 17, in fact, LCD Lab will put on sale 1,000 NFT by the artist Léo Caillard, a token whose peculiarity is to be individually associated by the studio with an edition of a Banksy Walled Off Box Set, a series of works usually reserved for customers of the Walled Off Hotel, the structure created by the artist in Bethlehem. These have been acquired over time by the gallery owner and member of LCD Lab, Baptiste Ozenne. After the sale, the NFT holder will be faced with a choice: keep the virtual token or destroy it to recover the promised work.

NFT overview from the “Banksy Radar Rats” collection. © LCDLab

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 co-founder of the studio. “Given the bear market and the difficulty of running out of collections, we agreed on the interest of linking the release of an NFT with a physical work by an artist like Banksy, which really speaks to everyone and has a market value.”

No official association

Despite his pseudonym, in fact, 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 having been awarded at 11.1 million euros in 2019 given the mint price of LCD Lab’s NFT (1,000 euros, to be paid in SOL cryptocurrency), the proposal is enough to make your mouth water. Probably a little too much … “The artist Banksy has just joined forces with the LCD Lab company”, you could read in Le Journal du Geek, or even “Banksy joins forces in August 2022 at Magic Eden and LCD Lab to sell his first art collection in NFT “to Arts in the City … But, in a communication sent to JDN, Pest Control (organization that guarantees the authentication of the artist’s works) clarifies:” The artist Banksy does not has created no NFTs. No NFT auctions on behalf of Banksy are not affiliated with the artist in any form. ” 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 does not want to shame the studio: “It’s difficult to entrust LCD Lab with the responsibility for their communication: people hear what they want, even more so in the NFT sector, so they are not to say that they are dishonest but it is certain that Banksy’s name is used as a lever when this trademark is not theirs. If the project is reminiscent of that of visual artist Damien Hirst, who will burn several thousand physical works previously purchased in NFT version from 9 September as collectors, “the key difference is that Hirst is part of the project from start to finish. There, when Banksy created these editions, he never thought it would be used in this context,” Beccafico points out.

“When Banksy created these editions, he never thought they would be used in this environment”

However, if the initiative raises legitimate questions about the appropriation of a work and intellectual property, the promised physical works are real and legally purchased by the studio. Furthermore, to reassure potential buyers, LCD Lab guarantees with the Box Set the delivery of a certificate of authenticity from the hotel and has contracted the services of Jean-Marc Scialom, urban art expert for the Blanchet & Associés auction house. According to the latter, also owner of NFT in a personal capacity, “the people who have embarked on this adventure are art lovers and collectors of Banksy’s work; somewhere they are having fun. The graphic creations of the NFTs they will meet problem are also successful “. Baptiste Ozenne also refutes opportunism: “We want holders of this token to be able to benefit from many exclusives. The NFT also embodies a pass for our platform and our next drops, but also for our other digital companies, such as Urban NFT, the platform of the annual Urban Art Fair festival at the Carreau du Temple in Paris. This will therefore allow access to drops in this context “.

A million euro recipe

Banksy Walled Off Hotel box, with their certificate © LCDLab

In the event of a successful sale, and therefore in full, the studio will collect one million euros, a sum from which the purchase of the boxes must be subtracted, according to Baptiste Ozenne. “Also, the Magic Eden platform (where will the mint take place, ed) takes 6% of the entire decline and we have to pay all the people who accompanied us, especially in communication. “Finally, LCD Lab also promises to share” 10% of the profits from the sale with the Walled Off Hotel for the organization of urban art festival “Face The Wall” in Bethlehem ” (contacted, the hotel did not respond to JDN’s request). Ironically, given the current situation in the NFT market, it is the expectation of traditional collectors that it may be enough to ensure the success of the sale. “I didn’t wait for this event to sell Walled Off Boxes, I sell many of them every year in different art fairs, in Miami, London or Paris, and it’s always the same emotion”, concludes Baptiste Ozen.

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