Crypto-currency democratises access to art and allows for more diverse investor profiles
A London based art gallery, Dadiani Fine Art, is revolutionising the power relations of art ownership. With the popularisation of block-chain investment, the barriers to entry for art ownership accessibility are being eradicated. The first global crypto-art auction will be held following a beta launch on the 20th of June. Fractional ownership of Andy Warhol’s 14 Small Electric Chairs will be sold on the Maecenas platform. The beta launch will test the software on a sample of the intended audience. In partnership with its sister business Dadiani Syndicate and crypto-art investment platform Maecenas, the gallery accepts purchases through cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Etherium and Bitcoin Cash. This significantly lowers the cost to the investor. The partnership represents a ground-breaking step in redesigning the art market.
Andy Warhol. 14 Small Electric Chairs. 1980. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23718/lot/49/?category=list&length=10&page=1
14 Small Electric Chairs, is currently placed at a market valuation of $5.6 million, of which 49 percent ownership will be sold. The final sale price will be determined by a smart contract operated on the Ethereum block-chain system, with the reservation price set at a minimum of $4 million. Maecenas’ technology produces digital certificates linked to artworks on the block-chain system. Investors can then buy and sell these amongst themselves on the Maecenas exchange. Although sale of artworks through block-chain technology has been implemented by Dadiani Fine Art since 2017, this particular sale will be the first global auction where multiple investors can secure partial ownership in a single artwork.
Andy Warhol. 14 Small Electric Chairs. 1980. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/andy-warhol-artwork-made-14-7332929
The cultural and temporal significance of Warhol’s artwork, in conjunction with the innovation enabling its ground-breaking sale method, represents the end of a somewhat exclusionary period of art investment. The painting’s exploration of death can be viewed in parallel with themes of renaissance and emergence. A new segment of the art market is emerging with the development of block-chain investment. Juxtaposing this emergence is the death of the barriers which prevented this new segment from participating in the market, prior to Maecenas’ market disruption. The auction sets expectations for a more inclusive art trade, where increasingly diverse investor profiles can access the market.
Tshepang Pooe is an intern at ART AFRICA