Groping, NFTs seek their place in the world of classical art

While the smell of sulfur hovers over the world of cryptocurrencies, some investors and experimenters are looking to introduce NFTs – digital tokens based on the same technology as cryptocurrencies – into the world of art galleries and museums.

Virtually cutting a painting into small squares, each associated with an NFT: this is what Artessere proposes, a company created by Anaida Schneider, a former banker from Liechtenstein.

Each NFT, a sort of electronic ownership certificate, is sold from 100 to 200 euros, which allows, according to the latter, to “democratize art”.

“Not everyone has $ 100,000, or a million, to invest. Hence the idea of ​​creating a kind of mutual fund” to invest in a very real work, based on “blockchain” technology, he told AFP.

Blockchains, or blockchains, are types of huge digital ledgers shared among a multitude of users, with no central authority and believed to be non-falsifiable. They have been 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).

According to Anaida Schneider, Artessere plans to keep the paintings for up to ten years before reselling them on the market.

The added value will then be shared between the NFT owners of the paintings.

But what happens if the work loses its value, or if it is destroyed?

“We are insured,” says Schneider. As for the possible loss of value, “we think it will not happen. We are experts. We know what we are doing,” she says.

The former banker denies that his aim is purely speculative and assures that his project fully complies with the “blockchain” law, 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 conducted by the Art + Tech Report website of over 300 collectors, about 21% of them had started purchasing 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 firm NonFungible.

However, the vagueness that still surrounds the rights attached to an NFT tied to a work of art dissuades public museums from exploiting the vein.

In Italy, where the artistic heritage is immense, the Ministry of Culture has declared to suspend its NFT creation projects related to works of art, due to lack of legal certainty.

– A digital Leonardo da Vinci –

One company, Cinello, has signed contracts with Italian museums for the sale of digital reproductions of their art treasures.

But the related NFT is only one of the options offered to the buyer, Cinello points out, anxious to stand out from the enthusiasm around “non-fungible tokens”.

Cinello sells a digital reproduction of the work in high definition, contained in an electronic box given to the buyer.

This box is connected to a screen the size of the work, surrounded by a handcrafted frame that reproduces the original frame.

The digital reproduction is protected by a system of codes, and provided with a certificate of authenticity which can, if necessary and if the buyer requests it, be integrated by NFT.

Cinello indicates that it has already digitized 200 works, including those by illustrious masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, and claims that its reproductions have already provided € 296,000 in revenue to Italian partner museums.

In general, Cinello’s founder, IT 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 “misused”.

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