Has The World Of Collectable Art Finally Gone Digital?
L'OFFICIEL Singapore|December 2021/January 2022
Has The World Of Collectable Art Finally Gone Digital?
Patrick Tan
Thaddeus Chong (not his real name) had been waiting for this day for a long time. As an anonymous phone bidder at a recent Christie’s auction, he had been waiting for months to receive his latest prized find – a rare piece by American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.

Chong, who attended New York’s finest business schools and made his fortune trading oil futures in the 1970s and ’80s, first set eyes on Pollock’s works when he was cutting his teeth on Wall Street and vowed to someday own one. And now that the day finally came, he couldn’t have been happier.

Prancing around the expansive living room of his 12,000-square-foot bungalow in Singapore, Chong couldn’t wait to show offhis latest acquisition to his friends, who would be “green with jealousy,” as he surmised.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. And Chong was left pretty much alone (his family hadn’t taken to art in the way that he had) to stare at his Pollock that hung forlornly in his living room. Even when the lockdown was lifted, Chong, who was accustomed to hosting large, lavish parties as an excuse to show off his extensive art collection, could only have small gatherings with close friends over to marvel at his latest acquisitions.

Chong, who was probably more into art for the bragging rights than anything else started to grow somewhat dejected – what was the point in having something that nobody even knew you owned? This is when Chong stumbled on the concept of NFTs or non-fungible tokens.

NF WHAT?

NFTs are not new. They’ve been around since Ethereum – the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap – originated. NFTs are essentially digital tokens that can be tied to anything digital – drawings, songs, items in video games, and even animated GIFs.

Using blockchain, a decentralized database that stores immutable information and transaction data, NFTs keep track of who owns what piece of digital property, and also serve as a public ledger to attest that ownership. Whether it’s a photograph, a piece of art, a video clip, or a collectable sports card, blockchain becomes the ultimate tracking tool to unequivocally determine ownership.

Let’s say you’ve created a digital painting – that painting can be registered to an NFT on the blockchain, as well as its history of ownership and its unique identification or code. When someone buys that painting from you, the blockchain will record that new ownership and also serve as a certificate of authenticity, which not only guarantees sole ownership in perpetuity but ensures that any copy of that art will not be “re-sold” as a knock-off because the blockchain is immutable and to date, unhackable.

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