Monday, June 27

Auction a meme in millions of dollars: the unstoppable fashion of crypto art arrives in Latin America

Last June the Morton auction house sold for the first time in its 34 years of existence a work of art that no longer exists in a tangible way. The box named Viva, by Mexican artist Juan Carlos Valle, is only preserved as a GIF on the internet in which you can see the beat of a heart in the center of a blank canvas. Although the work was recycled, the artistic creation and its authorship continue to exist on the internet as an NFT (token non-fungible) an encrypted code that uses the technology blockchain to ensure its authenticity. Viva It was sold for 110,880 pesos (about $ 5,500), triple its starting price.

From next September 6 until the 11th, Morton will open a new online bid, through the Artereum platform, of the Canadian Spanish company Oaro, with NFTs of 22 Latin American artists, among which are Yunuene, Christian Borbolla, Manuel Larrea, Carla Elena, Fernando Penhos and Martha Maya, among others. The participation of large galleries and auction houses to enter the crypto art market denotes the growing interest of investors and collectors in a world of million-dollar transactions that moves between speculation and the technological revolution. With bitcoin hitting highs, everything related to cryptocurrencies has exploded in the last year. For example, Sotheby’s is preparing the NFT auction for September 9 with illustrations of the well-known “boring monkeys” (Bored Ape Yatch Club) from Yuga Labs, with which they hope to reach $ 18 million for the entire batch. And this year, Christie’s sold a collage by artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, for $ 69 million. The work, made up of hundreds of digital photos that the author took since 2007, is the most expensive NFT in history so far.

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There is no internal logic as to why some NFTs are so sought after. Many of them are already part of the history of the internet. That is what makes buying the original file on blockchain platforms like Ethereum so special for some users. For example, the famous animation Nyan Cat it was sold for $ 500,000. Its author told the newspaper The Guardian that collectors were very interested in buying the original digital file from which hundreds of memes were born. The value of the NFT is that it is rare and exclusive.

In reality, there is no logic that explains why some viral NFTs work well and others do not. Artists, critics, galleries, and auction houses view this recent phenomenon with a mixture of curiosity and mistrust. Meanwhile, the art market does not agree. Some consider this movement a speculative bubble that will soon burst, while others declare that the future of digital art will be forever linked to that of NFTs. A revolution in the ways of exchanging the creative value of the work. “Crypto art is an artistic movement that uses the development of cryptocurrencies to create a new aesthetic expression and different ways of trading digital works,” says Juan David Reyes, the company’s Latin American community developer., from Colombia.

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The NFTs that will be sold by Artereum and Morton Subastas in Mexico, consist of JPG images, MP4 videos, GIFs or animations and even a piece of music. “It has great economic potential that grew during confinement and is here to stay,” says Alejandro Tornero, from Artereum. Blockchain technology protects the piece from potential alterations or copyright violations and generates royalties to its creator every time it changes hands. The starting prices of the works are between 900 and 2,300 dollars. “In this way, digital works are being bought and sold as if they were physical products and adding value to works that are shared on the network,” adds Juan David Reyes.

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Technology has made it possible for a generation of new artists to rethink the formats in which works are created and marketed. Martha Maya, artist from Baja California who participates in the auction, shows through a psychedelic and kitsch aesthetic, something that abounds a lot in crypto art, the dependence of society on screens with his work Portales. Maya began two years ago to create non fungible tokens and now he hopes to strengthen his brand thanks to online sales. “It is nice that the piece lives in its digital environment, where it was created,” he said at a press conference. “Those who understand aesthetics and the rules will be successful because it is a mixture of talent and creation but also of strategy and marketing,” adds Reyes. The cryptocurrency specialist refers that the Latin American market for NFTs is still incipient but little by little Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and other countries are joining the wave. Meanwhile, in the United States and Europe and Asia they continue to lead. Be careful, in something so promising, but at the same time so unexplored, there are those who will seek to profit in an ominous way. As the case of falso NFT de Banksy which was bought for about $ 300,000.

There are other artists who, however, do not agree with the big players joining the crypto art market. The drivers of the platform Given Art and other similar ones start from the premise that the crypto world was created precisely to avoid regulators and centralization. “Maybe [los NFT] they will be standardized as a certificate of authenticity that can be rotated between different hands and guarantees that the work is original, that it was not altered. What a gallery does when it gives you a quality certificate regarding the work ”, Reyes points out. “On the other hand, that means that the conversation is monopolized and that it is very difficult and expensive to enter if you are just starting out,” he reflects as a specialist.

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