Saturday, May 28

Sotheby’s admits for the first time the payment with cryptocurrencies of a work of art

The work of Yves Klein Zone de sensibilité picturale immatérielle Series n°1, Zone n°02 (receipt to Jacques Kugel) created in 1959 it went up for auction this wednesday with an initial price of 280,000 euros and a sale estimate between that amount and 500,000 euros. The winning bid was for 850,000 euros and the final sale price was 1,063,500 euros. The peculiarity is that Sotheby’s admitted for the first time the payment of the bid in cryptocurrencies. It is unknown whether the buyer will deposit the money in euros or cryptocurrency. At today’s exchange rate, it would be 360.5 Ethereums or 26.49 Bitcoins.

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The choice of this work as a piece that can be purchased in cryptocurrencies is not accidental, as it is related to the very origin of the peculiar piece, which is actually a receipt turned into a work of art and could be considered a precursor to NFTs. On April 28, 1958, the exhibition opened in a Paris gallery. The vacuum. The exhibition, to call it that, consisted of emptying the space of the Iris Clert Gallery completely. But, in Klein’s words, the gallery was not empty but saturated with “pure pictorial sensibility”. A few months later, some “rituals” were carried out that “transcended” the “immaterial pictorial sensibility”, as its title says, in a material object: purchase receipts —in gold— ​​so that collectors could become owners of the vacuum zone.

But for the acquisition to be fully completed, the artist devised that the receipt should be burned in a ritual before witnesses chosen by the artist, while he threw the gold into the Seine River. Three of these transfer ceremonies were performed and documented and the work that Sotheby’s has auctioned today is number two. The art auction house has related those performative acts to the world of crypto art, the work being a proto NFT, and the record Klein kept of the owners of the “zones” could have a similarity to the blockchain, although in In the case of Yves Klein, that registry was not decentralized, as is the case with the blockchain. The certificate of authenticity, created in the 1960s by conceptualists such as Sol LeWitt, is today reflected in a second revolution in authentication, which is the blockchain.

The first owner of one of these works was the Italian writer Dino Buzzati, who did as Klein asked and burned his receipt on the banks of the Seine. The second owner of an area was the famous antiquarian Jacques Kugel, who acquired it on December 7, 1959. As a collector that he was, he did not comply with the ritual but kept the receipt and framed it. It arrived in 1984 at the hands of its last owner, Loïc Malle, who has now sold it. Malle explained a few weeks ago that “nothing” was being sold and therefore it was a work that speaks “about nothing” but also about “fullness”. Regarding the original work, he explained that “it is not only art but it also incorporates the art market”, in a line of conceptual art that starts from Duchamp and also goes through landscape artists and other disciplines who did not want their works to be in a museum or in a salon. In this same audition, Sotheby’s has sold other works from the Loïc Malle Collection that deal with the act of experience.