In 2018 a landmark report by the artist rights organization DACS, Oxford University and The Alan Turing Institute predicted that blockchain could lead to the art market “heading for a previously unimagined reality: a world where art needn’t change hands to be of huge value, where veracity is assured, and art becomes interwoven into an entirely new sector”.
In such a reality artists could use blockchain technology to create new kinds of digital artworks that would appeal to a much wider collector base. Confidence and trust would grow among collectors once they could be assured of the authenticity, price history and provenance of artworks. The art market’s working processes would be streamlined, and artists could be confident of receiving royalties and rights payments — enabling more of them to make a living. Importantly for investors, the liquidity of the art market could be increased, allowing for fractional buying, increased lending against art and speedy trading on easy-to-use sales platforms.
Talking Digital Assets: NFTs on the Ethereum Blockchain asks whether this vision of the art market is becoming a reality. How are entrepreneurs using blockchain to facilitate new opportunities to promote and sell art? How is blockchain creating new marketplaces for digital art, what is being shown and who is buying? How much money is being spent in this new art economy? How different is this new art world and how will artists fare in such an environment?
The session starts with a conversation about art and blockchain technology between Joseph Lubin, Co-Founder, Ethereum, and Founder, Consensys, and Georgina Adam, art market journalist and author. Now that Ethereum 1.0 has been successfully launched, the development of Ethereum 2.0 is proceeding at a rapid pace. Meanwhile, ConsenSys is building the fundamental blockchain infrastructure, protocols and tools for application and platform builders in many different industries to use. How will entrepreneurs, technologists and developers build on the Ethereum blockchain and impact the art industry?
Olaf Hannemann, Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer, CV VC — which supports blockchain start-ups — will give a short presentation about the differing economic models for using blockchain technology in the art market.
He will be followed by Gauthier Zuppinger, Co-Founder of NonFungible.com in conversation with Jason Bailey, Founder of Artnome. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique digital items whose ownership is managed on a blockchain. Zuppinger will launch the Art and Blockchain Non-Fungible Tokens Report that will reveal the evolution of the blockchain art market since 2018, the number of collectors and artists in this
space, the distribution between primary and secondary markets and a comparison of blockchain art to the overall non-fungible space.
The invention of CryptoPunks in 2017 — 10,000 unique, collectible, digital characters with proof of ownership stored on the Ethereum blockchain — paved the way for so-called “crypto art” and were the inspiration for the ERC-712 standard that powers most digital art and collectibles. Since then NFTs have been traded for record prices: more than $15,000 for a CryptoPunk and $170,000 for the most expensive Cryptokitty in autumn 2018, according to their sales platforms.
The main marketplaces for NFTs include OpenSea, SuperRare, dada.art, Mintbase and Nifty Gateway. Jason Bailey will discuss the rise of the NFT market, its role in pushing new frontiers in digital art and whether museums should be collecting these artworks with Alex Atallah, Co-Founder and CTO, OpenSea, Devin Finzer, Co-Founder and CEO, OpenSea, John Crain, Co-Founder & CEO, SuperRare, Judy Mam, Co-Founder, dada.art, Nate Geier, CEO, Mintbase, and Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster, Co-Founders of Nifty Gateway.
The day will conclude with a pre-recorded session with Ben Nolan, Founder, Cryptovoxels, a blockchain-powered VR world that artists are using to create virtual galleries and sell art.