Cryptocurrencies are almost completely banned in Russia and the circulation of other types of tokens is very limited
The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Binance corporation have agreed to create and launch tokenized works of art (based on non-fungible tokens, No Fungible Token, NFT) from some of the collections of the world famous gallery of the old Russian imperial capital. The pictorial works will be available at the end of August. The director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovski, argues that “we test everything … NFTs exist and we need to test them.” “They will open a new chapter in the art market,” he assured the Russian press.
For the first time, the prestigious Russian museum intends to hold an auction of tokenized versions of five works from its collections: Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci, Judit by Giorgione, Lilac Bush by Vincent van Gogh, Composition VI by Vasili Kandinski and La Corner of the garden at Montgeron by Claude Monet. The winner of the auction will own these works virtually. According to the museum, it is about “providing a new level of accessibility to the Hermitage collections”, underlining that digitization represents “a new stage in the field of the collection of works of art.”
But in Russia cryptocurrencies are almost completely banned and the circulation of other types of tokens is very limited. The laws in the Slavic country regulating the sale of digital assets oblige most cryptographic properties to register with the Central Bank of Russia, especially for tax purposes.
However, the lawyers have developed a model that fully complies with the legislation, which, according to sources from the Hermitage, will allow the Russian market to be integrated into the international circulation of NFTs, which may represent digital content or a physical asset, but which they are not divisible. A work of art cannot be divided into fragments. They are stored on a blockchain, mainly that of Ethereum.
For each painting, two copies of the NFT will be created: one of them will be stored in the Hermitage and the other will be presented on the Binance market, the sales of which will be made in auction format. All proceeds from the sale are transferred to the Hermitage Museum and any Binance user will be able to bid. Each digital copy is personally signed by Piotrovski.
Speaking to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Helen Hai, director of Binance NFT, said that “the fact that one of the largest museums in the world recognizes blockchain and NFT technology represents a new step towards global digitization.” Piotrovski, for his part, believes that “new technologies, blockchain in particular, have opened a new chapter in the development of the art market, at the head of which is the possession and guarantee of that possession.” In his view, ‘makes luxury more accessible, but at the same time exceptional, exclusive (…) non-fungible tokens provide the guarantee that the buyer is the sole owner of a specific copy and give the impression of possess a unique digital work created only once «.