Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are making their way into the art world. The latest example is that of a Benjamin Katz painting that just sold for 150 bitcoins, worth around $1.25 million.
On the surface, one would think that cryptocurrency and art have little in common. One is a financial system while the other is an expression of creation. Yet there is a connection in that both systems actively push against centralization and champion individual action. As such, it makes perfect sense that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are making inroads into the art world.
This increasing acceptance was put on display yet again with the news of a huge deal. A painting by Benjamin Katz, a mixed media artist based in New York, just sold for the staggering sum of 150 bitcoins, which is worth roughly $1.25 million at the time of purchase.
The painting was sold by Ato Gallery, an online gallery, and the entire deal was carried out through modern messaging apps, such as Instagram, Signal, and Postmates.
The buyer contacted the owner of the Ato Gallery, Carrie Eldridge, asking about the price of Chasing Hearts/Northern Lights by Benjamin Katz. The prospective buyer talked to both Katz and Eldridge via the social media apps before making an offer of 150 bitcoins, which was accepted.
As for the painting itself, Eldridge says it took a lot of effort for Katz to complete it, saying:
It took Ben at least three months to make that piece. It’s very complex, mixed media using wax and paint and melting them together in his oven. He had to wear a gas mask; it was a whole ordeal he went through.
As for the painting itself, Katz explains:
The colors clearly represent the auroras over Iceland, and I added the hearts as symbolism for people looking for love; moving in all directions caught up in this powerful magnetic field. I chose the northern lights because of my connections to Iceland, and love for the beauty of that country.
Cryptocurrency Becoming More Common in the Art World
The art world and cryptocurrency are becoming more entwined. Various blockchain startups have begun to verify ownership and transactions of original artworks. French street artist Pascal Boyart has embedded Bitcoin QR codes into his projects so that supporters of his works can tip him via the cryptocurrency. There’s also been a massive run of crypto-inspired art created over the last couple of years.
Of course, cryptocurrency is often associated with the art world by its use in purchasing artwork. Probably the most notable instance recently features the iconic Andy Warhol. A gallery in the UK is selling a 49 percent stake in Warhol’s 14 Small Electric Chairs via a blockchain-powered auction. Buyers can pay in cash, Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies.
In fact, this percentage buying of artwork likely represents the next major intersection of cryptocurrency and art. The use of blockchain technology can easily allow people to invest in different works of art, show proof of ownership, and gain revenue from the investment. Such was the case with the Forever Rose digital art by Irish artist Kevin Abosch. A group of investment funds, collectors, and advisory firms combined to purchase that work of art, each with their own individual share.
Do you think we’ll see cryptocurrency being used to buy more works of art or become increasingly entrenched in the art world? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Artnet.