Maecenas, a Singapore-based blockchain art platform, said on Thursday it has tokenized and auctioned 31.5% of Andy Warhol’s painting "14 Small Electric Chairs (1980)", valued at a total of $5.6 million.
In its blog, Maecenas claims this is the first time the artwork of a major artist was sold using the blockchain technology.
The beta auction raised $1.7 million and reached its funding target.
The sum was raised in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and Maecenas’ native crypto token ART, from 100 hand-picked participants from 56 countries, mainly from Europe and Asia. The total number of investors who wanted to participate in the private beta auction was over 800. All buyers were subjected to know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) checks to make sure the purchases are compliant with financial regulations.
The goal of the auction was to validate the end-to-end process of the Dutch auction and the tokenization of artwork. The final price of each share was determined by running a smart contract on the Ethereum network.
Buyers were able to buy digital certificates for fractional ownership of the artwork, which would entitle them to “dividends” from fees, collected for the exhibition of the artwork in various galleries and museums.
"14 Small Electric Chairs (1980)" was listed on Maecenas’ blockchain platform in partnership with Dadiani Syndicate, the first art gallery in the UK to accept cryptocurrency payments for collectibles. The reserve price was set at $4 million.
The auction started on July 25 and lasted four weeks. A total of 36 bids were received, of which 34 were successful. The highest bid was for $6.5 million. During the auction were utilized more than 6 million ART tokens.
“This is a historical moment, for us and for the blockchain community,” Maecenas CEO Marcelo García Casil said in the blog post. “We have achieved a significant milestone that marks the beginning of a new era. Tokenization of assets is the most prominent and exciting use case of blockchain technology, and we’re proud to be pioneers in this space. This Warhol painting is the first of many more to come and we are looking forward to seeing and leading the financial revolution for the art market.”
“This auction was uncharted territory; a new model in an age-old market,” Dadiani Syndicate’s founder Eleesa Dadiani said in the same post. “The unprecedented demand, and speed with which the first fraction has been sold, has gone a long way to validating our vision of a more democratic and open art investment market.”
14 Small Electric Chairs (1980) is part of Warhol’s 1980 Reversal series and is deemed as one of the artist’s iconic images, along with Campbell’s Tomato Soup Can, Green Coca-Cola, Dollar Bill, and Marilyn Monroe. The painting has a certificate of authenticity from the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board in New York and has been exhibited in Zurich, Vienna, Hamburg, and Seoul.