50 billion: this is the price at which the Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci is estimated. If Jeff Bezos could afford this jewel of French heritage by spending only a third of his fortune, this is far from being the case for ordinary people. But imagine that tomorrow, thanks to the blockchain, you could become the owner of a piece of the Mona Lisa, it’s tempting isn’t it?
NFT tokens at the service of art
NFT (non-fungible token): a token that is unique and perfectly identifiable is called non-fungible.
If the most famous work in the world is now owned by France and resides in the Louvre, the representation of Mona Lisa could soon be distributed in single portions to multiple buyers thanks to blockchain technology. This is at least a technically possible hypothesis today thanks to non-fungible tokens (NFT). These are unique and identifiable tokens issued on the Ethereum blockchain. The latter are thus particularly suitable for collectibles, since they make it possible to create the uniqueness, and therefore the rarity, sought by collectors. This is also how non-fungible tokens are defined on the official site ERC-721 (which acts as a standard for this type of token).
The issue of NFTs in the real estate sector has already existed for several years although for often legal and / or legal reasons, this market is not yet very developed. So why not apply this technology to the world of art and culture? This project, which seems crazy to some, is however very feasible. As proof, some artists have already brought together the art and the blockchain universe in recent years. This is particularly the case for Kevin Abosch and his Forever Rose, tokenized and distributed in the form of digital tokens in the hands of 10 collectors in 2018, for a total amount of 10 million euros. Even more famous, it is in this form that the Parisian frescoes of street artist Pascal Boyart (well known in the French crypto ecosystem) could be monetized. We therefore understand that NFTs could in the future be a source of growth and democratization of the blockchain ecosystem.
From there to tokenise the Mona Lisa, the idea seems a little crazy, even improbable. However, this is the proposal made by Stéphane Distinguin, CEO of Fabernovel, and supported by Albert Dessaint, consultant and analyst at Blockchain Partner. If the intentionally provocative idea of his two men would give cold sweats to the followers of art, it is still necessary to see a coherent reflection. There are many arguments that show that technology would do a great deal for the arts and culture. Art enthusiasts and collectors alike agree that what makes a work valuable is its inalienability. They therefore see in the sale and sharing of a masterpiece like the Mona Lisa, a heresy. However, the tokenization and the NFTs represent the most reliable alternative today to make a work immutable. Thanks to the underlying technology, based on blockchain Ethereum, Mona Lisa could become even more inalienable than it already is.
To be convinced, let’s take an example. What would happen if by chance the work was destroyed ? It would be a disaster and it’s a scenario we don’t want to imagine. However, blockchain provides a solution to this possibility. By tokenising the Mona Lisa, it would be made immortal; never again would she have to worry about this kind of worry. Furthermore, the tokens issued could be exchanged peer-to-peer, instantly and securely. But the Mona Lisa itself would remain in its window at the Louvre, so that the museum would still have physical possession of it.
Beyond these technical considerations, the distribution of the Mona Lisa in the form of digital assets would also have a financial interest for the world of culture. And if the sale of Mona lisa was used to finance new works? The assumption is not absurd. We could see in the tokenization of old works a kind of technological patronage. The idea is at least to meditate.
This new economic model for the art market remains at present only a possible option. The reluctance of collectors or amateurs will certainly still be an obstacle to the association of art and technology blockchain. But one thing is certain, when these locks are released, the technology will be ready to support this project. Furthermore, no doubt either, that with his avant-garde spirit, if he had known him, it is a safe bet that Leonardo DeVinci would have participated in one way or another in the democratization of the blockchain and its applications.