This Famous Artist’s Watercolour Paintings From The 19th Century Are Being Sold as NFTs

The British Museum is cashing in on the NFT craze by selling 20 of J.M.W Turner’s paintings as NFTs, but buyers won’t be allowed to physically own or touch them.
Image source: tate.org.uk

Quick take:

  • The NFTs will be sold in collaboration with French NFT marketplace LaCollection.
  • The collection will be sold across three rarity levels.
  • Prices for the NFTs in the ultra-rare category starts from €4,999 ($5,661.07)

The British Museum is giving avid art collectors a chance to purchase 20 of J.M.W Turner’s watercolour paintings via an NFT auction next month on French NFT marketplace, LaCollection.

However, the physical paintings will not be made available to their corresponding NFT buyers. Left to the British Museum, the 20 paintings came from the personal collection of Robert Wylie Lloyd, a former director of auction house Christie’s.

English painter J.M.W. Turner was known for his expressive colourisations and paintings of marine landscapes. The paintings that are attached to the NFTs include A Storm (Shipwreck), completed in 1823, Messieurs les voyageurs from 1829, and The Colosseum.

While most museums have steered clear of NFTs, this is not the British Museum’s first foray into the NFT market. In September last year, the museum began its partnership with LaCollection to sell NFTs of paintings by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. 

NFTs of Turner’s watercolour painting will be sold across three rarity levels: Ultra rare, super rare and open.

J.M.W Turner is the face of UK’s £20 bank note, Image source inews.co.uk

Two NFTs have been issued for the nine paintings in the ultra-rare category, one of which will be held by the British Museum. 10 NFTs have been attached to seven super rare paintings, followed by a maximum of 99 NFTs for four paintings in the open category.

Buyers of the previously released Hokusai NFT collection will have a chance to bid for the only ultra-rare NFT up for auction as well as the first open edition NFT during a private sale from February 8 to 9. General sales will then open to the public from February 9 to March 4.

LaCollection’s partnership with the British Museum is a stepping stone towards the startup’s plans of working with the world’s most famous museums, galleries and contemporary artists to bring art collectors a curated selection of NFTs.

However, the monetary upside and effect on public access to collections displayed in brick-and-mortar museums looking to enter the NFT market are unclear, and whether the museums will stand to financially gain from being in the NFT market remains to be seen.

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