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London gallery sells NFT reproductions of masterpieces of art

Want a real Leonardo masterpiece on your wall? Or Raphael? How about a Modigliani head?

Even with the budget, the prospect of acquiring one would be slim. But that's where the gallery London unit goes into.

Together with the digital art platform Cinellothe gallery is using blockchain technology to create digital “counterparts” of six Italian masterpieces.

The works, by Caravaggio, Rafael, Leonardo, Hayez and Modigliani, were digitized on canvases mounted on identical replicas of the works' original wooden frames.

Each is available in editions of nine, a number traditionally associated with the production of sculptures.

According to Unit London, Eternalizing Art History "comes at a time when travel is still limited and there is an appetite for developing innovative ways of experiencing culture."

The concept could be a lifeline for struggling galleries hit by the drop in visitor numbers during the pandemic.

Galleries have certified NFTs on Ethereum

Four major Italian galleries have joined the project which takes digital replicas of masterpieces and certifies them on the Ethereum blockchain. They can then be traded like any other non-fungible token (NFT).

Four museums, the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan and the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta di Parma, authorized the reproductions.

And each gallery keeps 50% of the net sales revenue. The balance is split between the gallery and its technology partner.

A solution for works of art too old to travel

New technology also means that works too fragile to move can now be digitally displayed outside the home.

Speaking at the launch of the sale, Guido Guerzoni, a professor at Bocconi University, said: “In a pandemic year, European museums have lost 70% of their visitors and between 70-80% of their revenues.”

He added that for larger museums, the loss of international visitors had a much greater financial impact.

And new entrepreneurial initiatives are becoming a financial necessity for galleries to survive.

According to a spokesperson for Unit London, there has been “overwhelming interest” in the project, with sales of 12 to 15 expected by the end of this week.

Prices range from $114,000 to $284,000.


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