How NFTs are coming to the rescue of forgotten artworks

‘Abstract Composition’ by Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné is up for auction on Mintable with an accompanying NFT. — Picture courtesy of Mintable Drops
‘Abstract Composition’ by Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné is up for auction on Mintable with an accompanying NFT. — Picture courtesy of Mintable Drops

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PARIS, March 26 — Old and new are colliding in the art market. The family of the Ukrainian artist Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné is putting several of his works up for auction on the Mintable platform in the form of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

Although a significant figure of the Russian avant-garde, Wladimir Baranov-Rossiné hasn’t had the same success as some of his contemporaries on the art market. In fact, according to Bloomberg, his art has come to auction 100 times since June 2011, and most of it didn’t sell.

Now, the family of the Ukrainian painter is breathing new life into the market for their ancestor’s work, all while riding the current NFT craze. The family is currently auctioning an abstract painting by Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné on the specialist platform, Mintable — its first time on sale since it was painted by the artist in 1925. The artwork is being sold with an accompanying NFT, specially created for the occasion by the artist’s family.

“In terms of the NFT, it’s about being able to showcase my grandfather’s work to a different audience — and a wider audience,” the painter’s grandson told Bloomberg. “It’s interesting: You’ve got the Beeple NFT selling at Christie’s, and we’re the opposite — the fine art piece is selling on Mintable.”

Unlike traditional auctions, Mintable hasn’t given an estimation for this abstract composition by Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné. The opening bid has nevertheless been fixed by the platform at US$11,176 (RM46,324), or 6.95 ETH. The buyer with the highest bid will receive not only the painting, but also a unique non-fungible token certifying its authenticity and provenance. 

“Unique” digital copies

The family of Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné is also selling a selection of paintings by the artist that have been digitalised and converted into NFTs. As Mintable points out, these are copies, and the family of the painter will maintain ownership of the original artworks. While the initiative may seem surprising, the recent US$2.9 million sale of the first tweet in history as an NFT has shown that certain collectors are ready to shell out large sums for “original” digital images. And it’s exactly this kind of tech-savvy art fan that the family of Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné is hoping to reach out to.

To help drive bids, the artist’s grandson announced on Twitter that the future owner of Abstract Composition will be invited to meet him and his relatives, and to discover the family collection and explore the archives of Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné. Whether the Mintable auction proves conclusive or not, there’s certainly never been so much talk of the Ukrainian painter on social media. — ETX Studio

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