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NFT 'fractionalism' will make fine art popular among millennials, say experts

Fractionalising a physical painting through NFTs will enable millions of people to become collective co-owners of that painting, something that was unthinkable until now

September 19, 2022 / 01:27 PM IST
An employee holds up the frame of an original early 19th century replica of the Mona Lisa, in Paris at the Christie's auction house. (Image Source: AFP)

An employee holds up the frame of an original early 19th century replica of the Mona Lisa, in Paris at the Christie's auction house. (Image Source: AFP)

Fractional non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have the crypto community all agog, have the potential to make fine art popular among youngsters.

To be clear, fractional ownership of fine art doesn’t allow anyone to hang an entire painting in their home. Rather, NFTs have democratised popular works of art through fractionalism, whereby a collective can own a piece of art by dividing the cost. It thus allows each member of the collective to own a piece of the artwork, unlike earlier, when they had no other option but to watch someone else take it if they didn't have the money to buy it outright.

In an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol, noted British artist Sacha Jafri, an ardent believer in fractionalism, summed up its potential, “If you fractionalise a physical painting you can actually enable millions of people to own a fraction of that painting… but it's not really about owning a fraction of the painting. It's about being part of that community. That's the key.”

“If you can be part of an artist's journey then you're part of something much larger than the artist himself or the painting itself. You're part of the journey of that artist, and you're part of that community. And with that comes a lot of interesting benefits for both artists and collectors,” said Jafri.

Collective ownership and accessibility

Explaining the fractionalism concept, Arijit Mukherjee, founder of NFT marketplace Yunometa, says, “Imagine the joy and pride of NFT owners in being able to claim some part of a historic piece of work — Monet’s water lilies, for example. They can be proud owners of works that only art historians and an elite class had access to until now.”

Mukherjee says this will lead to more promising artists being discovered and artwork being created as fractional fine art becomes popular. Eventually, with enough traction and awareness coming in, it could potentially lead to an art revolution, he added, noting, “With fractionalism, it’s time for art to take its rightful place in history and pop culture.”

Accessibility will also increase through the fractional fine art concept. Millions who have dreamt of owning a Leonardo da Vinci or a Gustav Klimt painting can now easily become proud owners of the NFTs generated from these paintings.

Visibility for artists

For artists, this concept also comes as a boon as they get visibility regardless of the community, region or circumstances they belong to. Further, investors will benefit, as they, too, will have a global audience to trade the NFT artworks they own. Investors can survey artists and their work from all over the globe before making a decision on which project to invest in.

“Fractional art is a great way to see an artist you like and have been following, and a great way to have accessibility to own one of their artworks, as NFT projects generally have thousands of artworks. It allows an investor to be part of projects that become big and reap the benefits,” Vivaan Kapoor and Rahul Kapoor, Co-Founders of NFT-based platform CryptoRunners, said in an emailed response to Moneycontrol.

Going live soon

The fractional fine art concept is yet to meet its potential in India and in global markets. In a bid to make art accessible to all, Dubai-based Web3 fine art Fintech start-up Artfi is bringing the fine arts community into the blockchain, challenging the orthodox way of trading art.

The company aims to make art collecting easy, and to have it enabled by Blockchain and NFTs. To this end, Artfi is building a platform for a wider range of investors to invest in multimillion-dollar paintings. The paintings will go live on the platform for auction in a year or two.

Explaining how it works, Artfi's founder Asif Kamal says, “When you sell through the platform, you will be earning royalties all your life because this one piece of art from your collection will be sold to 10,000 different individuals as an NFT.” Kamal explains that an artwork owner can sell 90 percent of a canvas and retain 10 percent for use in the future when the NFT’s price goes up.

The price of the NFT will vary for each artwork, Kamal added. One of Artfi’s first collaborations, said Kamal, is with Sacha Jafri. His painting, Kafka’s Waiting Room, based on a book by famous Novelist Franz Kafka, and estimated to be worth $10 million, will be subdivided into 10,000 pieces, with each fraction being sold for $1,000.

Jafri told Moneycontrol that the plan is to raise money for charitable purposes through fractional NFTs of fine art.

“If I sell a painting for $10 million, and I raise $8 million for a charitable cause, then that's great. But you can break that same painting up into several fragments. And you can create pixels, and you can create a billion tokens, and you can raise a billion dollars from the same painting.”

India is a potential market, experts believe

CryptoRunners founders Vivaan and Rahul Kapoor believe that India will soon see a big rise in NFTs and the fractional NFT concept will be a catalyst for this to happen.

“As the magnitude of the benefits of this growing industry is huge, many companies have already realised its value and will be coming out with their projects very soon,” they said in their email to Moneycontrol.

Indeed, HelperWorld founder Ashwani Kumar says that NFTs as a medium will make it easier for the audiences to access the digital work attached to the physical art.

Anjali Kochhar is an independent journalist experienced in business and lifestyle writing. She is an avid follower of blockchain technology and digital assets.
first published: Sep 19, 2022 01:27 pm