NFT: a hybrid and unprecedented auction organized in Paris

It is an unprecedented event, which will be held on Tuesday, February 8. The planetary craze for NFTs comes to Paris with a unique auction of these certified digital works of art, opening in the interactive virtual universe of the metaverse, in addition to a very real physical space. On the menu for this hybrid sale: around fifty visual (paintings, videos, photos, fashion, design) and digital audio artworks by around twenty emerging international contemporary artists, as well as the Japanese graphic artist Hokusaï.

With an “auctioneer and bidders physically present in the metaverse who will interact as in real life, this will be the first such auction in the world”, unlike online auctions, organized everywhere under the name “metaverse” but not is it yet, assure the organizers.

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“Internet Safe”

Among the contemporary works, the prize for the unusual undoubtedly goes to a unique 3D creation of a cathedral imagined for the planet Mars, the sale of which will be dedicated to the restoration of the Latin Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, according to the Agutte auction house, which organizes the event. It was she who already in December had sold history’s first SMS in the form of NFT, for 107,000 euros.

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Created from a physical reality or algorithms, all these works have been digitized and made intangible by the magic of new technologies. “Each has a certificate of ownership and authenticity called a ‘non-fungible token’ (non-fungible token in English, NFT), which makes its value”, explains Maximilien Aguttes, specialist in the issue at the house founded by his father.

This revolutionary small digital object “is recorded in the ‘blockchain’, a kind of ‘internet safe’ that allows coded backup of the works, their tracking and their certification”, explains Valérie Hasson-Benillouche, founder of the Charlot gallery, pioneer in digital art, associated with the event. NFTs, she says, are “a new tool in the service of art, which gives artists access to new forms of creation, to infinite possibilities and allows them to express themselves. grip in all areas”.

On screens and physically

With an estimated starting price of between 500 and 70,000 euros, the NFT work will be auctioned on Tuesday. The public will be able to participate in this sale wherever they are thanks to the metaverse, with or without a virtual reality headset, explains Maximilien Aguttes. They will be presented from Saturday until the sale on screens and for some of them physically also on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris, where the sale is also held, with limited access for health reasons.

The public will be able to admire them in parallel in a space of 1,000 m2 replicated in the metaverse, accessible from a smartphone, tablet or computer. He will be able to dialogue with specific artists and curators in real time thanks to an internet link that will allow him to register for the event, explains Anton Toledano, from the NFT ArtAtak platform, which designed the technological and technical organization of the event.

He can then buy them in the virtual universe as if he were in real life: “a double ‘meta-clerk’ of the auctioneer will be available to bidders who will have identified themselves in advance and will be able to raise your arm or jump into the metaverse,” he adds.

A “form of investment”

Since France only allows the sale of tangible goods, “the intangible work acquired will be delivered in the form of a USB key to the buyer and its NFT transferred to the blockchain”, according to Maximilien Aguttes. If they attract the attention of “collectors eager for new technologies, often young, initiated by NFTs and investors”, he clarifies, “these digital certificates of authenticity also interest museums”.

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The works by Hokusaï, which will be offered for sale on Tuesday, are physically at the British Museum, which wanted to make copies NFT, certified authentic. Several museums have done the same with other works, such as the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, according to Valérie Hasson-Benillouche. “It is a form of investment (which generates funds, editor’s note), which ensures the ownership and provenance of the works, and which awakens new patrons”, she says.

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