Cryptocurrencies have been generating quite a buzz these past couple of years, causing massive disruptions to various industries by changing the way things are being done. These disruptions are evident in banking, trading, finance, commerce, and technology. Now, it seems like cryptocurrencies are making a beeline for the unlikeliest of worlds—the art world.
Not even the tradition-bound art world of Cork Street in London could escape the vast net being cast by Bitcoin. This means that paying for art with Bitcoin is now a reality.
Last July, Dadiani Fine Art became the first art gallery in the UK to accept cryptocurrency payments (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Ripple, Litecoin, and Dash). For the Georgia born art enthusiast Eleesa Dadiani such a move was a no-brainer. Dadiani believes that this pioneering mode of payment will eventually be the norm rather than the exception. Part of the appeal of offering cryptocurrency payments is the ease in which transactions can be made, and the fact that such transactions, once confirmed, are set in stone—impossible to be altered or tampered with.
This is made possible by blockchain technology, which is simply a digital ledger where every transaction is recorded and verified by numerous computers in a network. Then there is the matter of provenance, or the process of authenticating an artwork. Once it is finished, and the authentication recorded cryptographically, there is no need to redo the process. Paying in Bitcoin also affords the buyer anonymity, and this feature is evidently rousing the interest of an entirely new clientele: people with newfound cryptocurrency wealth.
One such client made history in the US for the first ever artwork paid for in Bitcoin. The artwork, a 2013 painting by American artist Mark Flood titled Select a Painting, was sold by The White Company last December for 12.3 BTC (roughly £72,548). The artwork was offered privately to the client, a Canadian citizen according to reports, who wanted to remain anonymous. Aside from Dadiani Fine Art and The White Company (specifically founded to be the first and only US fine art and luxury goods dealer to accept cryptocurrency payments), very few art galleries have yet to enter the world of cryptocurrencies, which is a head-scratcher, especially considering the view of economic historian Dr. Garrick Hileman. Dr. Hileman believes art and cryptocurrency are a good match, noting the art world is “the perfect industry for a cryptocurrency to survive in.” He explains that holders of cryptocurrencies tend to hold on to their assets, which is akin to holding on to precious items like gold and art. Those same Bitcoin holders, in turn, are more likely to invest in art, given the value of artworks as alternative assets.
The fact that more art galleries will open up to Bitcoin is not out of the realm of possibility, as cryptocurrencies are becoming more prevalent in modern society. After all, Ireland’s Lottoland just rolled out a Bitcoin lottery, which is now the world’s first ever cryptocurrency sweepstakes.
Another example is KFC Canada welcoming in the New Year by offering the KFC Bitcoin Bucket. Cryptocurrencies could even soon replace current currencies. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro recently introduced the Petro Coin, a digital currency that will purportedly reignite his country’s ravaged economy.
Yes, strange things happen when Bitcoin is involved. So, a world where art pieces are purchased using cryptocurrency might soon be a common reality.