Posted on January 12, 2023, 8:01 am
The founder of a crypto-investment company, Kenetic Capital, in Hong Kong, Jehan Chu worked in his early life at Sotheby’s before becoming an art consultant himself, then devoting himself entirely to the crypto universe. Today, he lives between Hong Kong and Puerto Rico and presents himself as a collector of “classic” artistic NFTs (Refik Anadol, Beeple…) and as an investor in NFT platforms. It says it has invested in 250 blockchain companies and 25 that focus on NFTs. In addition, he advises Christie’s on the subject of cryptos, artists such as Refik Anadol as well as various institutions.
Where is the market for art NFTs?
The NFT market follows the same line as the crypto market. Her downfall began with that of Terra Luna [projet de blockchain sud-coréen qui permettait la création de stablecoins, NDLR] then from TFC [plateforme de NFT spécialisée dans l’univers du football, NDLR] and finally from FTX [place de marché centralisée de cryptomonnaies dont la faillite en novembre dernier a eu un énorme retentissement, NDLR]. The NFT art market is mainly supported by crypto investors. The value of collected works is often denominated in cryptocurrency, and specifically in ether (the cryptocurrency linked to the Ethereum blockchain). Of course, all these events had a significant downward impact on the price of art NFTs, but also on the volume of transactions.
For example, collections like Bored Ape [des NFT à l’effigie de singes, NDLR] have dropped from $200,000 or $300,000 for the cheapest to $80,000 or $85,000, what is called the price floor.
Likewise, we have seen it price of Beeple’s works [l’artiste qui a enregistré un record aux enchères en 2021 chez Christie’s à 69,3 millions de dollars, NDLR] dropped from $100,000 or $200,000 to $20,000 or $30,000 for cheaper works on Opensea [une place de marché pour les NFT, NDLR].
We can say that each artist corresponds to a market. There are also different editions and series that are more popular than others. So Refik Anadol (born 1985), an artist who uses virtual reality is the subject of an exhibition now to mom. This is the first major exhibition in a classical museum for someone considered a proper NFT artist, and his work continues to demonstrate his strength. He was not affected to the same extent as the others. Refiku has different types of works. When Moma announced his exhibition, there was a surge of interest in his work. Refik publishes his works in large numbers. We have seen his prices go from 3 or 4 ethers to 1 or 2 ethers. Which corresponds to a 60% drop compared to a 70% or 80% drop for others…
Haven’t the falling value of NFTs discredited them in the blockchain world? How can we imagine the sequel?
As always in art, it is important to understand the creative context of the artist, which allows to judge its importance. Better proof than NFT art it is not a phenomenon without ink, it is that it is the subject of a series of institutional exhibitions. In addition to Moma in New York, we can mention the Kunsthalle in Zurich, which is currently organizing an NFT exhibition (1).
Doesn’t the NFT art field suffer from a lack of expertise?
Absolutely. It is now up to the exhibition curators to do the work. Today, institutions known as the Museum of Contemporary Art M+ from Hong Kong showcases NFT art with “Human One”, which is Beeple’s large format work. Previously, the piece was exhibited in Turin’s Castello di Rivoli museum. Today, well-known collectors such as Uli Sigg (Swiss, former ambassador, sold his collection of Chinese art to the M + museum), dealers with a well-established reputation such as Gagosian, Acquavella or Pace, are active in the field of NFT- to. Contemporary art institutions show, collect, sell NFT art. And NFT is a medium that has yet to deliver its full potential.
But don’t the recent drop in prices give the wrong signal?
In art NFTs, prices are volatile, as in art in general. This is a trend that we also notice for some old masters or contemporary artists. What I remember today is the new and reassuring phenomenon of interest from the institutions.
Well-known artists such as the Swiss living in Los Angeles, Urs Fischer, are also interested in creating NFT…
I really appreciate Urs Fischer’s work in the field of NFTs and collect it.
In this case, prices fell sharply. Each NFT is produced as a single piece and at the time of release, more than a year ago, could be worth $120,000 each. The average price today is between $20,000 and $30,000. But we cannot generalize. Prices vary depending on the works.
Other visual artists such as Roe Ethridge, Ian Cheng, Katharina Grosse are exploring this medium today.
Frank Stella [un des initiateurs de l’art minimal américain, NDLR] launched an extraordinary NFT. Based on 20 unrealized sculptures, he produced 20 edited NFTs in 100 copies. The owner has the right to download the digital file and 3D print the physical part in any color and material they want. These NFTs were launched at $1,000 each. Rumor has it that the Whitney Museum in New York and the National Gallery in Washington have purchased the entire series.
What advice would you give to people now wanting to buy art NFTs?
As in art in general, at the beginning of a movement there are extraordinary opportunities to approach works that embody time. Our period is crucial in that it produced a completely “digital native” culture. NFT will be the brush and canvas for future generations of artists.
NFTs have also spawned a whole generation of new enthusiasts who collect “digitally native” artists. Gradually, they will be interested in physical art and physical and digital arts will merge. Now is the perfect time to build a world-class collection. Because prices are low and access to work is open.
What are the dangers of such a collection?
These are the same as for any other category of art. The first is obviously speculation. I think piracy is also a problem. It is easier to seize and transport works from a computer “wallet” than those stolen from an actual home.
(1) Dyor, Until January 15, 2023. Kunsthalle; Zurich. The first institutional exhibition on art in the context of blockchain and NFT in Switzerland. kunsthallezurich.ch/en