AAt the start of 2022, the volume of the NFT market reached a record high of $17 billion. But after nine months, it’s dropped 97%, according to research firm Dune Analytics. While at first glance it may seem that the NFT bubble has burst, the reality is different. The fact is that NFTs have a lot in common with art objects that are not traded daily, and the profit from their sale exceeds that of trading stocks, bonds and precious metals. The first explains the decline in turnover, while the second is a telltale sign of such a stir in January. Sound confusing? Let’s take a closer look at some interesting art offerings, then draw parallels with the NFT market to clear things up.
The art of investing
At a Sotheby’s auction held in mid-October 2017 in Paris, one of the copies of Marcel Duchamp’s painting, “La Joconde mustachioed”, made in 1964, was sold for $750,000. This is a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, which Duchamp personalized by adding a mustache and beard. A year earlier, another copy of Duchamp’s “Moustachioed Mona Lisa” had been sold at Christie’s – another giant auction house – for 500,000 euros.
In 1999 “Three Sketches for a Self-Portrait”, a famous triptych created by Francis Bacon in 1976, sold for $3 million, and in 2008 for $28 million, showing an 850% price increase. During the same period, gold and the S&P (SPX) rose 232% and 18% respectively. The current evaluation of this work ranges from 47 to 74 million dollars.
Works of art are becoming more and more expensive, an undeniable fact. Considering that two-thirds of art objects are bought for their investment attractiveness, we can say with certainty that the dream of every art investor is to find a work such as “The Moustached Mona Lisa” and succeed in buy it at a relatively low price. As such, investing in art is essentially no different from investing in venture capital or cryptocurrencies.
Trading in art can make more money than trading in other assets. This is one of the reasons why the NFT market has gained such momentum. But it must be said that $17 billion is not such a large amount. For reference, global art and antiques sales in 2021 were $65.1 billion according to Art Basel and UBS. It will be very interesting to observe the global art turnover for 2022 when the corresponding report is published. It can be assumed that 20-25% of the increase will come from transactions with NFTs.
NFTs and art
Do you dare to affirm that the purchaser of “La Joconde mustachioed”, a reproduction of a mustache and beard painting attributed to a woman, was sure in 1964 of the success of his investment, and did he have solid reasons for doing so? Or did a successful deal become a reality as the Mona Lisa was recognized as a cult work of art from the 20th century to the 21st century? But we will not deepen the spatial reasoning on this point.
Today, it is extremely difficult to say which NFTs will cost a fortune. Take Beeple, for example, who was a famous digital artist, but hardly anyone in the art industry had heard of him before his sale of NFT works. Bidding started at $100 and the deal closed at $69,000,000.
Keep in mind that not all items sold as NFTs are works of art. Is it something creative? Absolutely. Can we talk about art? Not always. There is a fine line between the concepts – the presence of a deep meaning, the idea and the method of implementation. Make no mistake about it, because the pixelated images generated may be fully paid, but you still have to be careful with the art that you probably missed, if you don’t read this material. Unless, of course, you are familiar with the comings and goings of this sector. These are works of art presented at the Venice Biennale in 2022.
Venice Biennale 2022
So, let’s imagine that we are looking for NFTs that can fetch millions, and we will take a look at one of the most famous art events – an international art exhibition held every two years with the participation of artists talent from all over the world and hundreds of works of various styles presented — the 59th Venice Biennale 2022. This one is of particular interest, since works from the NFT were presented there for the first time.
Participating in the Biennale is a feat in itself, so let’s take a closer look. Here is a video rendition of “The Kiss” by Shavonne Wong, proclaiming that there are no barriers to love in the form of gender, race or nationality. Here is a fully online generative art project – “Chimera” by Mpkoz, as well as “Observation” by Rafaël Rozendaal, “Seven of Swords” by Justin Aversano and “Social Sacrifice” by Studio Drift. And behind each of these works hides the idea of a passionate artist; each is beautiful in its own way. But there is a unifying factor: all of these NFTs already exist. In fact, they were presented as NFTs.
Perhaps it is possible to find works presented at the Biennale as real, physical, modern “classic” art, which was attracted to the exhibition not because of the popular NFT format, but for the value artistic of the object of art which underlies it. Like a young startup that can become a unicorn and has not yet received any investment from a venture capital fund. After all, this is the stage where investing is most profitable, isn’t it? Take, for example, the METAMORPHOSES project of the creative artist duo Concept2048 – Ekaterina Perekopskaya and Rostyslav Brenych, young but already well-known artists who introduced the concept of social value into art.
METAMORPHOSES by Concept2048
The artists develop a personal exploration of artificial light and color in relation to perception, inviting viewers to understand a hidden agenda. METAMORPHOSES is a digital fashion art collection of 2048 unique and mysterious portraits of the Envoys of the Universe, where each Envoy is a ray of light that controls one of the four natural elements – water, earth, fire or the air. The project plans to release the unique collection of NFTs on January 24, 2023, with over 200 NFTs already sold out within minutes of the presale rounds launching. But you can still whitelist on the project website right now.
There are several points to note – all 2,048 works in the project are handcrafted. The NFTs will be published on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain and TON’s NFT marketplace called TON Diamonds. However, in my opinion, the most significant element is the story of the artists themselves, which does not come from this collection at all, as the artists appeared on the scene more than five years ago and are still producing quality art. They not only try to highlight global issues in their work, but also encourage their viewers to take active steps to change the surrounding reality and maintain sustainable development on the planet.
For an attentive reader, the algorithm for finding works of art presented in the form of NFTs as potentially attractive for investment has probably become more understandable. There’s a lot of commonality in this regard with venture capital investments – high returns and high risk, and to find a unicorn you need to understand the subject and get to know the team and their background.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.