By: Sebastien Raybaud
Jan 21, 2022 | Fri | 18:15
The non-fungible token (NFT) craze continues to take the art world by storm.
With their rise, audiences can also be collectors of authentic museum-level artwork in digital form.
The British Museum will launch its second wave of NFT collections. This year, the works of the English Romantic painter William Turner (1775-1851) will be sold. The starting prices for digital works range from the cheapest at 799 euros (about 900 US dollars) to the most expensive at 4,999 euros (about 6,000 US dollars).
by Turner A storm (sinking, around 1822-1823) | English Museum
Turner’s middle section A storm (shipwreck)
In 2021, the British Museum collaborated with the NFT platform, TheCollection, to sell NFTs of masterpieces by Japanese woodblock master, Katsushika Hokusai. Works included Below the great wave off Kanagawa (1820–1831), Ejiri in Suruga Province (circa 1830-1832) and Fine wind, clear morning (1832) – from the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series.
This year, the two have joined forces again.
Of Turner’s 50 watercolors, bequeathed to the Museum by former Christie’s executive Robert Wylie Lloyd (1868-1958), 20 were cast in NFTs for sale. Details will be announced on the official website this weekend (January 22).
masterpieces such as A storm (shipwreck) (around 1822-1823), The Colosseum, Rome (circa 1820) and Lucerne by moonlight (1843) are featured in the NFT sale. The rest is yet to be announced.
by Turner The Colosseum, Rome (circa 1820) | English Museum
by Turner Lucerne by moonlight (1843) | English Museum
Regardless of the level of NFT, the British Museum will keep a version. So the actual sale quantity is the number of each category minus one
According to Lloyd’s last wishes, these paintings cannot be loaned. The British Museum can display them for two weeks in February each year or by special request, which makes these paintings rare.
The 20 digital NFTs will be sold at three levels of rarity:
- 9 will be Ultra Rare (two editions, one of which will be kept by the British Museum)
- 7 will be Super Rare (10 editions of which one will be kept by the British Museum)
- 4 will be Open Edition (a maximum of 99 editions will be sold over a 24-48 hour period and the final edition number will be set at the end of the sales window)
Prices for the Open Edition NFTs are estimated to start at €799, while the Ultra Rare Turner Editions start at €4,999.
The British Museum #TurnerNFT sale on TheCollection follows the first collaborative auction of the pair of 200 NFT Hokusai
Rome, from Mount Aventine (1835) was Turner’s most expensive painting sold at auction
In 2014, Turner’s auction record was set when his painting, Rome, from Mount Aventine (1835) – depicting a view of Rome from the Aventine Hill (the southernmost of the seven hills of the ancient city) – was sold at Sotheby’s London. Estimated between £15 and £20 million, it was sold for £30.3 million (about US$41.2 million) with a buyer’s premium.
TheCollection was co-founded by French entrepreneur Jean-Sébastien Beaucamps, to help museums reach new audiences with NFTs. Beaucamps contacted 30 institutions – from museums to art galleries, and the British Museum responded positively.