NFTs are making headlines. in London or New York Non-fungible symbol Who authenticates the digital creation on the blockchain Breaking auction records. But what about France? Will the art market miss the crypto art revolution? What are the main obstacles? Interview with Lucie-Éléonore Riveron, co-founder of Fauve Paris auction house.
Desiree de La Marzelle: What is your definition of an NFT?
Lucy-Eleonor Riveron : NFT is an acronym for “non-fungible token”, that is, a non-fungible token that is included in the blockchain. You have to imagine the blockchain as a big notebook in which you write things and where you can never go back: everything that is written is final. Furthermore, a non-fungible token is an asset that cannot be exchanged for something equivalent, which is what makes it its unique value and therefore a very interesting item to create. It’s been many years since there have been artists making digital (3D photos, videos…) but as infinitely reproducible as it can be, it’s been harder to monetize it. Take Beeple, an American artist who has been posting a 3D image on Instagram every year for 13 years, often related to current events… NFT technology gives exclusivity to a digital file that will make Beeple’s JPEG unique, give value. In fact, NFT is the “cash pass” of digital creation.
A financial windfall for digital artists?
L-air: Monetization finally allows artists to sell their digital work, but another very interesting point associated with NFT is the possibility of a form of copyright with a “smart contract”: a contract that relies on Blockchain technology to set their terms and the terms of their execution are tamper-proof. Where the ADAGP (French Association of Authors of Visual Arts) has to collect every sale to return the copyright to the artists, is done automatically with NFT because everything is transparent on the blockchain. It is a real revolution that allows artists to make a living from their digital creations. Beeple generated record $69 million in sales at Christie’s last March with an NFT that collected its first 5,000 published images. All this does not prevent reproduction because “jpeg” remains a file that can be sent for example, but the NFT becomes a title deed. The blockchain replaces the notary in a way.
Isn’t ownership of a virtual product a bit complicated from a legal point of view?
L-air: This will inevitably open the way for new jurisdictions, but we make the difference between owning and owning a jpeg file. It’s the same difference as, say, an original digitized photo of Nan Goldin and its poster… Furthermore, when you buy an NFT, you get its certificate of authenticity on the blockchain, but you’re not necessarily sure of the authenticity of the server. There are NFT projects underway that rely on artificial intelligence to embed the algorithm that creates the file into the blockchain. We’re experiencing a totally interesting side of creativity: we’ve programmed the artwork somewhere so everything is included in the contract!
There is a form of euphoria surrounding NFTs, but what about the market?
L-air: We are at the cradle of the art of cryptography. Today, there are few NFT auctions, mainly for legal reasons. On the other hand, NFTs are sold on online platforms such as OpenSea, which are more general, or other more regulated platforms such as SuperRare or Foundation, where there is a technical department. Some numbers can give you an idea of the potential for NFTs: in the first half of 2020, sales reached $13.7 million and $2.5 billion in 2021. There were more than 1 billion transactions on the OpenSea platform for the month of August. Beyond the definition of NFTs, there are plenty of other things that can be “tokenized” outside of the art world, such as tokens for tweets, Sorare (fantasy football game) cards) And many other things that are sold and exchanged but are necessarily virtual.
And the French market where is located?
L-air: On one side there are the artists and on the other side there is the French art market. The French creative scene in virtual digital creativity is of high quality but has not yet reached its tidal wave. Crypto artists mainly come from Asia and especially from the United States. As far as the French market is concerned, it is currently a failure with only about a dozen lounges seriously dedicated to NFT.
Auctions play a real role in the institutionalization of NFT
How do you explain this delay?
L-air: Because no one understands anything, he even warned about an almost sulfur technology in the collective unconscious: virtualization, a speculative bubble that will fall, all this scares. For my part, I am convinced that a new chapter in the history of art has begun before us. It is as if when we discovered photography we decided that it was going out of fashion and that we had to confine ourselves to painting.
Sotheby’s announced the creation of a digital space dedicated to NFT, your auction house too?
L-air: In France, auction sales are a profession that remains under the supervision of the Voluntary Sales Council, which gives its interpretation of commercial law. Today, since the sale of intangible assets is not regulated by virtual commercial law, this is prohibited for us. We are the only ones in the world, while at Christie’s or Sotheby’s we see sales running into the millions. I went with a lawyer who specializes in intangible law to interview the person in charge of a report on the matter, without result. That is why I am trying to draw attention to what is happening in France, which is considered an emerging country: the whole world is obsessing over NFTs and we are studying the reports…
So it may take time before this becomes possible in France…
L-air: Nothing prevents me from organizing one privately, i.e. by invitation via e-mail… which is kind of the trick. And Maison Fauve will accept payments in cryptocurrency, including for physical business, because this cryptocurrency must also be desecrated. I really want to sell an NFT amidst paintings by great artists or furniture by Charlotte Perriand, why wouldn’t it be in the same sale. We really need to support the ongoing transitions.
What is the role of auctions in cryptography?
L-air: Auctions play a real role in the institutionalization of NFT. I am not a gallery owner, so my goal is not necessarily to see the works of artists on the first market, but rather to sell works that have already been commissioned, that is, to validate the choice of cryptocurrency collectors, to register crypto art in the long term: public sale creates a coast thus It integrates artists of crypto-art into art history in general. It is no longer a parallel speculative movement.
Even digital, this technology is criticized for not being environmentally friendly…
L-air: Yes, on historical platforms “Proof-of-Work” technology was very energy intensive to use, but today layers (an additional layer built and glued on top of the blockchain) solve the “green” NFT problem. So the Tezos market is very green.
Does Fauve Auction House Reflect Your Image: Are You Breaking Auction Codes?
L-air: We created it in 2014 with my partner and auctioneer Cedric Melado, with the idea of decentralizing from this highly regulated world. We have our own selling space, designed as a living space (750 sqm) with a large showroom, photo studio and cafe for brunch – for example – before the Saturday sale. The house is not called Riveron and Melado like our mates’ house, but Fauve with the desire for a more modern and exotic continuum. Finally, we aim to enter the top 20 auction houses in France with a selection of the best products for sale. I don’t know if I’m a code-breaker, but it’s been a few months since I’ve been passionately involved in the Parisian crypto scene, and it’s always a chance to meet hot people. It is my duty to participate in the art market revolution.
Announce the facts of an ongoing revolution
There is something amazing about the scientific and technological advances that have been made over the past 50 years. What new phenomenon is all the rage? what does that mean? How does this relate to you? In the book NFT Revolution, Jon Karp and Remy Berts, both digital art enthusiasts and authors of the daily NFT Morning podcast, decipher cryptographic art, NFTs, and the blockchain, which they present as a documented system for digital things. A mine of information to stop saying we don’t understand anything in a booming, almost €6.5 billion market.
The book “NFT Revolution. The birth of the crypto-art movement.