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The NFT boom is gradually rippling through every industry and market. Recently, it has impacted the art world, which now experiences a sort of “renaissance” in consumption, trade, ownership, and evaluation.
For the first time in history, small investors and art collectors can buy and own small parts of billion-dollar masterpieces. Prestigious and up-and-coming art galleries make that possible through the liberating effect of non-fungible digital copies.
For example, you cannot own Gustav Klimt or Lucas Samaras’ artworks without paying a fortune. However, you can purchase and own an NFT representing a tiny part of their digital counterparts. And that places you in the select company of a few art collectors jointly owning the blockchain version of a unique art piece.
Suddenly, the community of art collectors is no longer a closed club for eccentrics and hardcore connoisseurs. Instead, it becomes a global community where artists, collectors, and investors come together to reap the many benefits of the art world.
Several digital art galleries are building the future of art ownership and trade. This article focuses on the three fastest developing brands in this sector.
ArtèQ is a democratic space for traditional and digital artists, developers, Metaverse storytellers, and NFT collectors. It features innovative technologies, such as fractional NFTs and asset drops running on the Ethereum blockchain.
ArtèQ collaborates with the world's most prominent museums and art galleries to ensure secure investments in unique and illustrious NFT art. The project combines the benefits of blockchain technology with the enduring heritage of the art world bringing the analog world into the digital space. Today, it is a rapidly-expanding ecosystem transforming the emergent crypto art market into a sustainable investment opportunity for art collectors.
In February 2022, artèQ teamed up with the prestigious Belvedere Museum in Vienna to launch an NFT drop of Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece “The Kiss.” The artèQ team divided a high-res digital copy of the famous artwork into a 100 x 100 grid. Next, it put the resulting 10,000 unique individual pieces for sale as non-fungible tokens. The drop went live on February 14 to appropriately celebrate one of the world’s most famous depictions of love on Valentine’s Day.
How does it work?
ArtèQ boasts the first NFT Investment Fund with a global digital presence and is registered as an ISIN in Switzerland. Also, the project showcases the first NFT gallery in Europe and a native token, ARTEQ, backed by 240 Ethereum.
The artèQ NFT Fund collects the best artworks of famous artists worldwide on its platform. Its expert team curates all art pieces and uses state-of-the-art technology to support their exhibition. Lastly, a growing community of artists, collectors, and NFT investors comes together to access the rewarding opportunities of the art world. Through this community ArtèQ looks to create a revival of interest in art especially in the younger generation.
The artèQ Token binds all operations on the platform, supports purchases, and ensures long-term sustainability. In the future, the token may give holders access to a staking system. So far, the team has already listed the token on leading decentralized exchanges like Uniswap and on price-tracking websites, including Coinmarketcap and CoinGecko.
ArtèQ uses the synergy between the many components of its ecosystem to build the artèQ token’s value. For instance, it features an Online Auction House, Art Galleries, and a crypto-backed Loan Program. The latter should be available from 2023 and provide an exclusive lending system for NFT holders.
The artèQ Auction House comprises a closely-curated catalog of analog and digital artworks. Investors and collectors can access them in an exclusive virtual space that enables active trades. The business operations around the Fund and its components can lead to mid-term and long-term profits for investors and token holders.
The artèQ Art Galleries are physical venues hosting traditional and crypto art exhibitions. So far, artèQ has opened its first gallery in Vienna and plans to open two more in Berlin and Istanbul. Lastly, one of artèQ's hottest anticipated events is the release of a 6,000 NFT piece collection representing one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s musical masterpieces.
Masterworks is another digital art gallery with global reach. It is the first platform allowing people to build a portfolio holding priceless works from artists like Banksy or Basquait. Also, it enables creators to store their artwork safely while the platform identifies potential buyers.
While it doesn't sell NFTs, Masterworks enables investors to buy shares representing small artwork parts at affordable prices. This way, small investors don’t have to pay millions of dollars on masterpieces. Instead, they can own art collectively with major art collectors. For instance, Banksy’s Mona Lisa sold in 2020, leading to a 32% net IRR for investors.
Unlike other digital art galleries, Masterworks registers significant artworks as entities with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Investors receive Class A stock shares for each art piece they hold in their portfolios.
How does it work?
The platform identifies the best artists of our days and “blue chip” artists. The latter are creators whose artworks have proven to increase in value over time. Then, it purchases said pieces and registers them with the SEC.
The owner/creator then receives pro-data proceeds if the artwork sells within the next 3-10 years. Alternatively, they can sell their shares in the Masterworks Secondary Market, currently available only to US citizens with US bank accounts.
One of the main benefits of using Masterworks is the comprehensive offer of famous artists and artworks. Investors can easily diversify their portfolios while making sound investments with potentially high ROI. Furthermore, the platform uses an “industry-leading research team” to curate portfolios for only a 1.5% annual management fee.
Other advantages include easy access, a user-friendly interface, and no transaction fees on buying and selling shares. The platform assists newcomers with investments and provides easy-to-follow guides. Lastly, it helps users earn returns between 8% and 30% on their ventures. On the other hand, Masterworks only takes 20% of a resale if the artwork has increased in value.
A minor downside to using Masterworks is that new investors have to pass a phone interview before buying art. Nevertheless, this feature is only part of the platform's high-security standards, including SEC validation and bank verification.
The last entry on our list is Pace Gallery, a contemporary art platform hosting famous artists from the 20th century to today. The art gallery is somewhat of a family business. Arne Glimcher founded it in Boston in 1960 and passed the reins to his son, Marc Glimcher, the gallery's president and CEO today. Furthermore, its name comes from the founder's nickname, "Pacey," who decided to move it entirely to Manhattan, New York, in 1963.
Over the years, Pace Gallery released over 450 artwork catalogs for artists and their physical art pieces. In November 2021, the gallery launched its NFT-dedicated platform, Pace Verso. Furthermore, it announced that it would receive Ethereum for digital and traditional artworks across its selling channels.
How does it work?
Pace Gallery offers users a platform for minting, showcasing, and collecting NFTs. This way, it brings together the three essential elements of the art industry, the creators, exhibition hosts, and collectors.
The first NFT collection on sale at Pace Verso included Lucas Samaras, one of the pioneers of digital art. The platform continued with exhibitions and sales of famous artworks from Simon Denny, Glenn Kaino, and Urs Fischer, among others. In a short statement anticipating the NFT platform’s release, CEO Marc Glimcher said:
“We work with a number of artists who want to make NFTs, so building a dedicated platform where they can show their work was an obvious next step for us. It will allow us to create the optimum environment in which our artists’ work is shown, ensuring the highest quality interface and user experience. By offering artists' work on our own platform, we can better support them in setting appropriate prices and by managing the sales process more seamlessly than through third parties. We will occasionally work with other platforms, as we do now, on a case-by-case basis depending on what makes the most sense for the artist and project.”
Pace Verso offers monthly drops from digital artists, thus meeting the increasing demand for digital art ownership. The gallery aims to drive NFT collectors towards art to revive and popularize a practice stagnating for decades. Art collecting used to be a pastime of the elites and connoisseurs. Today and in the future, it could become easily accessible to everyone through its digital art platforms and galleries.
Digital art galleries have the ambitious mission of merging the traditional art world with innovative blockchain technology. The primary risk is alienating some classic art enthusiasts still loyal to conventional art collecting.
Conversely, a good mix of both worlds can instill younger generations of collectors with a newfound interest in art and culture. Also, the art world could prove even more rewarding thanks to the promise of NFT investments.
Regardless of how this evolutionary step in art consumption plays out, NFTs represent the future format of art galleries within the virtual space.