Would you spend millions to buy crypto art?

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Matt

Would you spend millions to buy crypto art?

Thu, 30 May 2024

Crypto art – like all things digital seem to be – was initially met with a great deal of skepticism. However, as respected artists began to increasingly throw their weight behind it, as well as some of the most renowned institutions in the art world (see the Christie’s $69 million Beeple sale), it has begun to find genuine credibility. But, given that crypto art gives owners no actual rights other than to be able to claim to own the art piece, is it really worth the money, and would you spend millions to buy it?

Isn’t it just a JPEG file?

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are the method of ownership for digital artwork. The Beeple sale, for example, resulted in an NFT stored in a shared global database decentralised using blockchain. However, there are no other rights that come with an NFT other than the claim of ownership – no copyright, for example, or any right to a physical print – which is what has given rise to the argument that what’s being purchased is essentially just a JPEG file. However, when it comes to buying other types of art, the motivation for doing so is often very similar to a crypto purchase. For example, it can spark a conversion, it might be an investment for the future or a way to communicate your interests and tastes to the outside world. The clear difference is that there is no physical art to display with crypto art – anyone can look at a print online and there is nothing to hang on your wall at home. So, does that mean that crypto art is really just paying for a JPEG?

A different kind of uniqueness

One of the main reasons why you might spend millions to buy crypto art is that what you’re buying is actually completely unique. A very expensive artwork, such as the Beeple piece, comes with a single NFT – the only one that the artist has created. So, you are the only owner. Plus, many people invest in something like a limited edition print in order to buy a connection with the artist. Via an NFT that connection is even closer and more distinctive than a ‘real world’ piece.

The question of value in art

Whether a piece of art is worth the same as its intrinsic value is something that has been argued for centuries without conclusion. There are many people who would look at famous artwork that steps outside the bounds of oil painting or sculpture and question whether it was really ‘worth’ the millions that someone had paid for it. Tracey Emin’s unmade bed sold for almost $4 million, for example, and the intrinsic value of it was nowhere near that. For many people, crypto art is the peak of the conceptual art’s separation of the work of art from any physical object and that makes it both a natural continuation of artistic progress and an enticing must-have.

If you had millions to spend, would you buy crypto art with it? This is a question that we will often see debated as crypto art sales increasingly dominate the headlines and the discussion online.

Scott Fleary are a leading designer and installer of scenery, set construction, and technical solutions for the creative industry. More information on the various Scott Fleary's services can be found here: https://www.scottfleary.com/services

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