Broke museums are selling NFTs of famous paintings by Raphael and Da Vinci

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Does a da Vinci by any other name smell as good?

The madness of museums

Museums financially strapped by the pandemic have turned to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to help them recover cash – and are even selling digital reproductions of famous masterpieces.

As The New York Times reports, some European galleries and museums have started selling NFT reproductions of works such as Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Raphael and Gustav Klimt.

In partnership with Italian company Cinello, which in 2021 patented an NFT method involving high-resolution reproductions that are displayed on backlit screens placed inside vintage frames, art dealer Unit London, focused on the digital, as Times notes, has just closed a showcase of Italian masterpieces reproduced in NFT form.

The exhibit, titled “Outsourcing Art History,” is the latest effort by cash-strapped museums — like the Italian galleries where the showcase originals are housed — to raise funds while taking advantage of the NFT craze.

pretty penny

To be clear, not all museums jumping on the NFT trend are broke. The British Museum, for example, jumped headfirst into the hubbub, signing an exclusive five-year deal with the Ethereum blockchain-based LaCollection platform that will only make the institution famous for owning countless antiquities. even richer volleys.

The final NFT sales figures reported by these museums and galleries, as shown in the Times initially seem wise by art world standards – from the $444,000 raised by the Hermitage Museum in Russia for NFT replicas to the 10,000 digital reproductions of Gustav Klimt’s “Kiss” selling for around 1,850 euros each For Valentine’s Day. But given that these aren’t original works of art — remember, they’re just high-res replicas that confer questionable ownership status — those numbers are starting to look awfully high.

Once again, NFT enthusiasts stumbled upon the very postmodern argument about what constitutes art. There’s no denying that good reproductions are worth paying for, but when these replicas also come at a steep environmental price, it really begs the question of whether it’s really worth it.

READ MORE: Museums benefit from NFTs [The New York Times]

Learn more about NFTs: The Dune NFT Project is back with an inscrutable new scheme

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