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It’s not surprising that the world’s most expensive painting ever sold at auction is a masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci. In November 2017, his Salvator Mundi was sold for more than $450 million at auction at Christie’s in New York. This sale shattered all previous records for works of art sold at auction or privately. The mind-boggling price reflects the extreme rarity of Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings. There are fewer than 20 proved as being from the artist’s hand, and all but Salvator Mundi are in museum collections.
The painting depicts Christ in an anachronistic blue Renaissance dress, making the sign of the cross with his right hand, while holding a transparent, non-refracting crystal orb in his left, signaling his role as Salvator Mundi and representing the ‘celestial sphere’ of the heavens. Approximately thirty copies and variations of the work by pupils and followers of Leonardo have been identified. Long thought to be a copy of a lost original covered with a new coat of paint, it was rediscovered, restored, and exhibited. Several leading scholars believe it to be an original work by Leonardo da Vinci, while other specialists dispute this attribution.
Even though the authenticity of this work of art is questionable, someone took the risk to spend such an incredible amount of money on it. Because buying art is a way to demonstrate an individual wealth and prestige. It is human nature. Having “a Leonardo” is not just a financial investment but an added personal value – you are the kind of person who owns “a Leonardo”. Art flatters vanity.
It is also a way for people with a sixth sense of art to determine when certain styles will attract attention, whether due to their beauty or radical form. Some paintings may have had little or no value at the moment of their creation and do not seem like a good investment. Decades later, however, this might change and double their investment.
More and more people see art as a financial product or just another investment and enter this market. We don’t even have to have something to hang on our wall or lock-in our safe now. Tokenisation and fragmented ownership make it possible for everyone to buy affordable shares in works of art. People can invest increasingly manageable amounts. Access to art is getting easier, thanks to blockchain-enabled platforms.
With that said, let’s get back to Christie’s auction house. After the auction house sold the world’s first NFT artwork, a collage of digital images, for the impressive sum of $69.3 million last year, NFT pieces began to attract more and more attention.
What is NFT?
Generally speaking, NFT (non-fungible token) transforms digital artwork and other things, such as videos or images, into a one-of-a-kind, unique asset. Anyone can easily trade these assets through the blockchain system. The innovation brings in serious revenue for many artists, musicians, influencers, and investors who put in serious sums to own the NFT version of a digital image. For example, the selling price of Jack Dorsey’s first Tweet was $2.9 million. A video showing basketball star LeBron James’ dunk cost over $200,000 to his new owner and the NFT version of a popular GIF image of a flying cat from 10 years ago sold for $600,000. However, the non-fungible tokens aren’t exactly a new technology. CryptoKitties, a digital game on Ethereum’s crypto platform allowing users to acquire and sell virtual cats that are unique and saved on the cryptocurrency’s blockchain system, is being held up as one of the original examples of NFT technology.
What exactly does “non-fungible” mean?
A fungible object is one whose individual units are essentially identical and can exchange. Let’s see some examples of currency and art. The fifty bucks are fungible because we can exchange them for any other fifty. Bitcoin is also fungible, as we can exchange one bitcoin for any other bitcoin, and we will have the same value – one bitcoin.
However, the painting of Salvator Mundi is non-fungible as only one is authentic – hence we cannot exchange it for another Salvator Mundi.
Imagine the NFTs as digital certificates of ownership and uniqueness. For the first time in history, the blockchain provides a 100% reliable way to verify the authenticity of a digital asset.
Why did NFT become so hot lately?
Part of this interest comes from people who want to support the work of independent artists. The payoff for many artists, musicians, influencers, and others is considerable, with investors spending a lot of money to own NFT versions of digital images. Others are intrigued by the idea of acquiring digital artworks and other collectibles transformed into a one-of-a-kind, verifiable assets. And again, let’s not forget vanity.
How to create an NFT?
Anyone can create and sell an NFT. All it takes is a digital wallet, the purchase of some Ethereum, and a connection to the marketplace for NFTs, where we will be able to upload our content and turn it into NFTs or crypto art. Even if we are not digital art creators ourselves, we can always commission an independent artist to create our unique NFT project. Our unique authenticity.