Fans of Pablo Picasso will soon be able to own a share in one of his paintings for less than $6,000 (CHF5,500) – although that won’t actually buy them the right to see the work, which will be stored under lock and key in Switzerland.This content was published on July 15, 2021 - 18:08
Fillette au béret (Young girl with a beret) is being sold – or “tokenised” – via the blockchain in what Sygnum, the digital asset-focused Swiss bank organising the sale, says is a world first.
“This marks the first time the ownership rights in a Picasso, or any artwork, are being broadcast onto the public blockchain by a regulated bank,” Sygnum and co-organiser Artemundi, an art investment company, said.
Subscriptions for the CHF4 million ($4.35 million) sale are expected to open at the end of July, with tradable shares in the painting available for CHF5,000 and above.
The 1964 work depicting a beret-capped child in bright colours on canvas was last sold for 21.4 million Swedish krona (CHF2.27 million) by auction house Uppsala Auktionskammare in 2016.
It is not the first painting by Picasso (1881-1973) to rub shoulders with the blockchain. Driven by a surge this year in the market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), often focused on digital-only artworks and other virtual items, Sotheby’s flagged an NFT-linked sale of Picasso’s Le peintre et son modèle in June.
The painting sold for £2.25 million (CHF2.86 million), though plans for the joint sale of an NFT – a one-of-a-kind token that exists on a blockchain – that would link ownership to a digital version were scrapped, the auction house said.
Also in June, NFT art market Unique.One opened an auction for an NFT tied to a Picasso print, Fumeur V, which in April had sold at Christie’s for £15,000. The print – one of 50 of the same work – was first displayed at a gallery in Denver before being burnt to create the NFT The Burned Picasso.
However, in the Fillette au béret sale, the tokens are fungible – or exchangeable – and no Picasso will be burnt. But no physical artwork will change hands either, as the painting, while being available for loan to museums and exhibitions, will be stored in a high-security facility, the organisers said.