A digital-asset focused Swiss bank called Sygnum is touting what they’re calling an unprecedented sale of shares in Fillette au béret a painting by Pablo Picasso, via the blockchain. This tokenization of Picasso’s work will result in buyers being able to purchase a share in Fillette au béret for $6,000, but they won’t be able to actually see the painting; the canvas will remain locked away in Switzerland. Subscriptions to participate in the sale are going to begin to be made available at the end of July, and the painting itself has an interesting history.
Made in 1964, the bright-colored painting depicts a small child wearing a beret, and it was last sold by the auction house Uppsala Auktionskammare in 2016 for $2.48 million. Buying shares in a painting is nothing new; this kind of fractured ownership methodology has captivated collectors and auction houses for years, but the blockchain-specific transaction lends a new kind of permanence to a distinctly 21st century state of affairs.
“This marks the first time the ownership rights in a Picasso, or any artwork, are being broadcast onto the public blockchain by a regulated bank,” Artemundi, an art investment company that’s co-organizing the sale, said. Picasso has also been in the news recently after a thief admitted he’d stolen one of the artist’s canvases from a museum years ago; additionally, Sotheby’s recently launched an auction wherein a Picasso was sold alongside an additional NFT.
However, in the Sotheby’s auction, at least the buyer could expect to look at the physical painting, which was included in the promised-upon transaction. With the Sygnum sale, the only reward will be the shares, and perhaps the sensation that the buyer has participated in something digitally novel. In this hyper-accelerated auction world, that’s definitely something.