Are You Ready to Collect Museum Art through NFTs?
Collecting Caravaggio, Van Gogh and Monet through NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) is one of the most disruptive and bizarre occurrence in today's art world, along with Beeple's ongoing auction at Christie's, offering a purely digital artwork (NFT) first of its kind in the history.
Conventional vs NFTs
Although Provenance and authenticity is the common ground between a conventional piece of art and NFT art, the aesthetics and financial liquidity is of a world of difference. According to Artnet, the top 3 most expensive works of art sold at auction in 2020 were Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus (1981) by Francis Bacon, at $84.6 million; Ten Views of a Lingbi Rock (1610) by Wu Bin, at $76.6 million; and Nude With Joyous Painting (1994) by Roy Lichtenstein, at $46.2 million; while the top 3 most expensive NFT artworks so far were CROSSROAD by Beeple at $6,600,000.00 (3,693.072 ETH); THE COMPLETE MF COLLECTION , also from Beeple, at $777,777.77 (435.211 ETH); as well as The EverLasting Beautiful by FEWOCiOUS fewocious | parrott_ism | odious | jonathanwolfe, at $550,000.00 (307.756 ETH), according to cryptoart.io.
Top 3 Most Expensive Artworks Sold at Auction in 2020
Top 3 Most Expensive NFT Artworks
The booming of NFTs artworks has very much diminished the conventional concept and experience of art collecting, as if the full cycle of art collecting no longer exists, only the transaction of the ownership matters. When art collecting is not about the physical possession and appreciation any more, does it mean we could collect anything we want, as long as we're rich in our digital wallets?
What does collecting a NFT Van Gogh mean?
Established in 2021, Global Art Museum (GAM), verified by Opensea, claims that they transform historic Old Masters into blockchain-secured unique art called NFTs
As we can find in the website of GAM, it has initiated 4 art initiatives until 8 March, representing 4 world-renowned public museums: Rijks Museum in Netherlands, Birmingham Museums in the UK; Art Institute of Chicago and Cleveland Museum of Art, in the USA. Ranging from old masters, Renaissance to Neoclassicism, invaluable masterpieces from those museum collections have been transferred by GAM to the cryptosphere, with their unique NFT to represent their namesakes in museum. Instead of conventionally collecting a Van Gogh painting, you are paying to collect a series of code, which signifies your ownership of the NFT art or NFT image of Van Gogh.
How much are museums involved?
Simply NO. The collections that GAM choose to transform are all under a Creative Commons Zero Licence (CC0) . It is a nonprofit organization that helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges. The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights, to the extent allowed by law. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
Failing to hear any voices from museums’ side, along with the ambiguous reply to the public’s question from GAM, we suspect that GAM has not reached any official agreements with museums beforehand. To make an NFT, all GAM needs is just a digital file (JPG, PNG, GIF, etc.), downloadable from the museum e-sources with fully open access. The image must be minted, and a computational process that registers it on the blockchain.
NFTs art or NFT image?
What GAM has been doing is to make the most use of CC0, transforming a huge range of high-quality digital resources into NFTs. In this case, it seems more appropriate to call these works as “images” rather than “art”.
Compared to most of the digital art traded in NFTs, which signifies the current frenzy that art buying as speculation and investment within the art market, GAM has restored the emotional value (buy what you love) and aesthetic value to the art to some extent. As it claims:
"Secured by blockchain, all artwork provenance is documented, thus preventing duplication. The artwork can be viewed by anyone around the world (transparency) and can be transferred to anyone around the world and tracked on blockchain (accountability). Every owner of the artwork will be handed a Certificate of Authenticity. Any revenue derived from sales or rental will be shared with the museum. Thus, your purchases will help to support museums financially in today's difficult COVID-19 pandemic era."
How much is a NFT Van Gogh?
Currently, this 1887 Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh was offered at highest 0.02 WETH or $35.74, though it has been sold yet. All museum NFT artworks are open for bidding, which is also part of the "decentralising" feature of the cryptoshere. OpenSea, on which GAM operated is a do-it-yourself (DIY) minting platform that allows creators easily mint their own NFTs without charging for an Ethereum gas fee.
Among the over 120 artworks offered by GAM, only 11 pieces have received bidding offers. While Art Institute of Chicago received the most offers for its impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, the color woodblock print Twilight at Nakanocho by Japanese artist Okumura Masanobu (奥村政信,1686-1764) from the Cleveland Museum of Art Collection received the highest price, $349.58. No trading has been made successful so far.
However, the few biddings still let us have a chance to sneak peek at buyer’s attitudes towards the transformed traditional art: the preference for the renowned names and the obsession with uniqueness.
11 NFTs Museum Artworks with Bidding Offers
Will Museum Ultimately Arrive in the Cryptoshere?
Highly active on Twitter, re-tweeting, interacting with museum official accounts as well as various NFT-related accounts, GAM is making efforts to broaden its influence and gain authoritative recognition at present. It's still too early for large and traditional cultural institutions to make a response to NFTs art yet, one thing for sure, most museum audience is suffering from digital fatigue caused by the endless lockdown. So might be yes, but not soon.
By Yunru Long and Lang Xiao
Contact USThank you for reading. Feel free to reach out if you need any advice and services in cross-cultural communication. ARTouch Consulting is a boutique cross-cultural PR and digital communication agency, specialising in arts, culture and luxury lifestyle, connecting brands with vibrant Chinese audiences and consumers. We provide A to Z PR and digital communication solutions.
What is NFTs? Non-Fungible tokens
It is an entry on the blockchain that is unique which can represent one-of-a-kind things. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin is fungible, i.e. 1 BTC is interchangeable for 1 BTC and 1 ETH is interchangeable for 1 ETH. However, NFTs, which rely on special token standards like ERC-721 to ensure uniqueness, are non-interchangeable and verifiably unique. Given that digital files can be copied infinitely and perfectly, an NFT token can solve this problem by proving that one digital file is the one-and-only “original.” Technically, anything digital could be sold as an NFT and as with all assets.