Just as artists like Scharf could help bring different types of collectors to NFT marketplaces, Christie’s offering a major work by Beeple may entice collectors who started out buying and selling CryptoKitties to place a bid with the 255-year-old auction house. According to Noah Davis, the post-war and contemporary art specialist at Christie’s who helped organize the Beeple sale in collaboration with MakersPlace, the idea of putting an NFT on the auction block had been circulating within the firm for months.
“Following a year that forced the art market to go digital, we all felt that this was an inevitable development, even if it is a little unsettling,” Davis said. “As a mechanism, the potential that NFTs have to shift the way that we establish ownership has no bounds. I am very excited to see how artists will utilize this technology to open up a world of new creative opportunities, and in turn, I look forward to witnessing how this disrupts the art market as we now know it.”
It’s not hard to see the disruptive appeal of NFTs, especially considering their potential to address many of the longstanding imbalances of power and information that have defined the physical art market. For one, the technology ensures traceability and transparency of provenance, making information about past sellers and prices publicly available and in turn reducing the possibility of fraud.
“The way that the NFT and blockchain technology is keeping provenance has been one of the greatest components,” said Amanda Rottermund, an associate specializing in art law at Withers. “Because you as the buyer are the only one who can have it—you’re on the blockchain, you’ve got the token, you’ve got the control. That’s a great way to prevent fraud in the market.”