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Your token is kept in the Hermitage

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Your token is kept in the Hermitage

10.09.2021

Russkiy Mir Editorial

The Hermitage Photo: pixabay.com

There are some good news for art connoisseurs. From now on every person can buy an exhibit from the Hermitage. Of course the buyer should possess a certain amount of money. All this has become possible thanks to new technologies.

We’re not talking about the original pieces of art, since leading Russian museum does not intend to part with them. There are unique digital copies. Last summer, the agreement about the digital art project was signed by the State Hermitage and Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges. A limited series of tokenized works from the museum's collections to be released soon.

To understand what is at stake, one have to learn about NFT - three mysterious letters. NFT stands for Non-Fungible (in other words “unique”) token. The token is a term from the world of cryptocurrencies. In the digital world it is an analogue of security: a peripheral device used to gain access to an electronically restricted resource.

There are diverse types of tokens: tokens-shares, tokens-loans, tokens-applications. Non-fungible tokens by their very nature of uniqueness, are used to record information on the ownership of something (in our case a digital work of art) into the blockchain. In other words, it is a digital cryptographic certificate that is completely tamper-proof. It confirms that the person is the owner of the original digital artifact. And heres its main property: such token does not prohibit copying, but confirms the uniqueness of your copy. In a buyers case, his/her digital copy of the original work of art. As strange as it sounds, but its true.

Why is it important? Such a certificate gives person a digital copy with a real value. Its a digital exhibit, from which one can build a digital collection or sell it out for a lot of money - there are already examples. This can be compared, probably, with a very good fake: without a special expertise, no art critic will be able to distinguish the NFT digital copy with just a good copy. Nonetheless identical look, only the original copy has a great value.

Talking about contemporary art, just in March of this year programmer and serial entrepreneur Vignesh Sundaresan, known to the cryptocurrency community as MetaKovan, made headlines for his record-breaking purchase of Beeples Everydays: The First 5000 Days NFT for over $69 million. Mr Sundaresan has underlined that he has no regrets spending such a huge amount. He said also that the rise of NFTs herald a new era where technology allowes artists and collectors around the world to buy and sell art more easily and democratically.

Lets come back to the Hermitage. The digital copies are made from the pearls of the museum collection."Madonna Lita" by Leonardo da Vinci, "Judith" by Giorgione, "Lilac Bush" by Vincent Van Gogh, "Composition VI" by Wassily Kandinsky, "Corner of the Garden at Montgeron" by Claude Monet are leading the list. The project is titled Your token is kept in the Hermitage.

Reportedly, each digital copy to be personally signed by the Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky. With this signature, the general director of the museum certifies the authenticity of a limited series of works, a the same time creating an independent work (by the very fact of applying his signature, date and exact time of signing). Thereby the tokens get an absolute uniqueness. The metadata, becoming an integral part of the NFT, will also indicate the place of signing, the Hermitage building.

So far, for each painting were created two digital copies. One of them will remain in the Hermitage collection, and the second to be auctioned on the Binance crypto exchange. It might be acquisted by anyone with cryptocurrency.

Now, why does the leading Russian museum wants to participate in this project? First of all, proceeds from the sale go to the Hermitage. And secondly, with the development of blockchain technology and NFT, a new art market has been created. It is obviously a digital one, and the museum wants to occupy its own niche in it. As Mikhail Piotrovsky himself declares, This is the way that opens the door to democracy, makes luxury more accessible but at the same time exceptional and exclusive.
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