ZURICH, July 15 (Reuters) – Connoisseurs of Pablo Picasso will soon be able to own a share of one of his paintings for less than $ 6,000 – although this does not give them the right to see the work, which will be stored under lock and key in Switzerland.
“Fillette au béret” is sold – or “tokenized” – via the blockchain in what Sygnum, the Swiss digital asset-centric bank organizing the sale, says is a world first.
“This is the first time that the property rights of a Picasso, or any work of art, have been released on the public blockchain by a regulated bank,” said the latter and co-organizer Artemundi, a investment company in art.
Subscriptions for the sale of 4 million Swiss francs ($ 3.68 million) are expected to open in late July, with tradable shares from the array available for 5,000 Swiss francs and up.
The 1964 artwork of a child in a brightly colored beret on canvas was last sold for SEK 21.4 million ($ 2.48 million) by auction house Uppsala Auktionskammare in 2016.
This is not the first painting by the famous iconoclast Picasso to rub shoulders with the blockchain.
Driven by a sharp increase this year in the market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), often focused on digital-only artwork and other virtual items, Sotheby’s reported an NFT-related sale of “The Painter and His Model” by Picasso in June.
The painting sold for 2.25million pounds ($ 3.12million), although plans to jointly sell an NFT – a one-of-a-kind token that exists on a blockchain – would tie ownership to a digital version have been discontinued, the auction tells the house.
Also in June, the NFT Unique.One art market opened an auction for an NFT linked to a Picasso print, Smoker V, which in April had been sold at Christie’s for 15,000 pounds. The print – one of 50 of the same work – was first displayed in a Denver gallery before being burned to create the NFT “The Burned Picasso”.
However, in the “Girl with a Beret” sale, the tokens are fungible – or exchangeable – and no Picasso will be burned.
But no physical artwork will change hands either, as the painting, while being available for loan at museums and exhibitions, will be stored in a high-security facility, organizers said.
($ 1 = 8.6412 Swedish kronor)
($ 1 = 1.0877 Swiss francs)
($ 1 = 0.7214 pounds)
Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; edited by John Stonestreet
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