LaCollection CEO: British Museum NFTs are the new postcards

By Raffaele Redi

Forget about old-fashioned postcards, ‘non-fungible-tokens will replace them’

The Sound of the Lake at Rinkai, from the series Eight Views of Ryukyu by Katsushika Hokusai                                 
British Museum is selling NFTs of Katsushika Hokusai’s artworks – Photo: LaCollection.io
                                

Forget about good old postcards, “non-fungible-tokens (NFTs) will replace them, there is no doubt that they are here to stay”, says Jean-Sébastien Beaucamps, co-founder and CEO of LaCollection and a former executive with Sodexo, in an exclusive interview with Currency.com.

LaCollection is a new NFT art platform dedicated to museum and institutional collections. It has just launched a partnership with the British Museum, auctioning off its first NFT series of ‘digital postcards’, which have been co-produced with the London institution. The NFTs will take the work of one of Japan’s most celebrated artists, Katsushika Hokusai, into the digital realm.

Like the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the digital transformation is rapidly changing the world of art, postcards included. “Because I live in Paris, I often used to visit art exhibitions in the tremendous number of museums in the city. But the lockdown forced me to stay at home.

“Because I missed this unique experience, I started visiting museums online and that’s when I saw the first NFT. They were launched by a museum as a series of digital artworks. In the beginning, I was sceptical about them, but after a lot of research, no more,” Beaucamps says.

“NFTs are about much more than digital art, they are vehicles to tell the story of art, both old and new. Their recent popularity is only the beginning of a new way to collect limited editions of artworks. It is exciting to see that disrupting technologies can reinvent the relationship between museums, collectors and content,” he says.

A lifeline for museums

Art NFT auctions are increasingly becoming an opportunity to engage with new audiences. NFT sales have already passed the $1bn milestone in trading volume.

In one of the latest NFT auctions, fashion house Dolce & Gabbana collaborated with UNXD, a curated marketplace for digital luxury and culture, to create a bespoke collection, titled Collezione Genesi. The collection featured both digital and physical items. The nine-piece collection made ETH1,885.719, or a whopping $5.65m (£4.17m), from the auction.

Around the world but particularly in the UK, museum directors are reportedly cutting jobs and slashing budgets, raising concerns for the post-pandemic future of the sector. Beaucamps suggests that NFTs could become a lifeline for them.

“The British Museum is earning a lot in terms of funds. And what is more, they will earn a small percentage on NFT resales on the secondary market,” he says.

It is still too early to see the results of the ongoing auction, but a lot of cultural institutions appear to be looking at the benefits of these technological advances. “I’m in touch with several international organisations. They want to see how the auction develops and, above all, see the response from the public,” Beaucamps says.

Partnership with the British Museum

The launch of the NFT sale coincided with the opening of the Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything exhibition at the British Museum, which displays 103 drawings by the Japanese artist that have never been seen before. The works were produced around the 1820s-1840s for an illustrated encyclopedia that was never published.

More than 200 Hokusai NFT artworks are available for purchase online. The series includes digital images of iconic prints by the artist, such as Under the Wave off Kanagawa, Clear Day with a Southern Breeze, and Ejiri in Suruga Province, as well as some lesser-known works. LaCollection chose a hybrid approach to the sale, so some NFTs will be sold at fixed prices while others will be sold at auction.

“It is an honour to partner with the British Museum, one of the most prestigious art institutions in the world. LaCollection is born from two passions: art and technology. We aim to build the largest NFT platform dedicated to art institutions. We want to create a new digital interface with museums and art, and in the process create a community of like-minded people,” Beaucamps says.

Further reading: The Bible in NFTs: Israeli duo launch CryptoVerses

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