We already knew that the Hermitage Museum wanted to open up to the NFT sector. Now it has done so. The partnership with Binance serves to “create and offer tokenized art from the museum’s collections,” according to a statement released today. The paintings will be offered in digital form, and auctions will begin at the end of August. This is the first time that the Hermitage – one of the world’s most important museums – will offer non-fungible tokens for sale.
Among the NFTs offered are Composition VI by Wassily Kandinsky, Garden Corner at Montgeron by Claude Monet, Lilacs by Van Gogh, and Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci. Each painting will be offered via two NFTs: one will be stored at the Hermitage Museum, and the other will be sold. All pieces will be signed by Mikhail Piotrovsky, the museum’s director.
As the release notes, this signature not only certifies the authenticity of the NFT but also creates a unique reproduction, which will be immortalized in the blockchain. This, therefore, reinforces the rarity of the work, and thus potentially its selling price.
Binance also notes that this future auction has clarified certain regulatory aspects of token sales in Russia. The country is particularly resistant to cryptocurrencies, so the Hermitage’s initiative has helped develop a model for selling NFTs that complies with local laws.
NFTs are increasingly finding their way into venues dedicated to art. The artist Damien Hirst recently offered 10,000 pieces as NFTs. He also believes that non-fungible tokens could replace art galleries in the future.
Unsurprisingly, the gradual emergence of online marketplaces brings with it new challenges for the sector. In particular, the Hiscox report points to the “difficulty of creating a trusting online relationship” with buyers. 64% of platforms, especially those that are exclusively available online, admit to having difficulty reassuring their customers. The art market has always been plagued by counterfeiters.
To guarantee the authenticity of production, fight against fraud, open up more to less fortunate collectors and facilitate the work of art insurers, the art world is currently turning to blockchain, the transfer, and storage technology behind bitcoin. Thus, 60% of online art sales platforms believe that blockchain can transform the sector in a lasting way. For now, 30% of digital marketplaces even plan to integrate blockchain into their operations in the coming years. Among the online auction houses that are already betting on blockchain are Christie’s or Sotheby’s, two big names in the art world. Richard Entrup, CIO at Christie’s, talks about “a growing interest in our industry to explore the benefits of secure digital registry via blockchain technology”.