Will NFT ‘Provenance’ Change Digital Art Collecting?

The world has gone crazy over the NFT fad. Previously starving artists are now overnight millionaires selling digital copies of their artwork to collectors hungry for the next hot limited edition. Millions of dollars are being exchanged for lines of digital code that up until a few months ago had seemingly no intrinsic value.

 

It is amazing. It is historic. It is changing the world of collecting as we know it. And yes, it is a fad.

 

That’s not to say that NFT collecting will end. NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens have been around for several years as an integral part of the burgeoning world of blockchain technology. They are trustless digital contracts executed on the permanent, immutable, unforgeable blockchain initially used for unique items in games like Crypto Kitties or tracking products to ensure the origin and quality of said products for big box stores (as one practical use, an NFT can be created for a box of lettuce stamped with a QR code in Guadalajara, the truck, the train, the refrigeration levels can all be tracked right up to delivery in Denver. No more ‘bad lettuce at Taco Bell’ stories.)

 

What the world is going crazy for now with NFTs and digital artwork or music and the like is more akin to Crypto Kitties. People want those unique digital items, and are paying ridiculous prices for them. 3 years ago, CryptoKitties’ Founder Cat #18 was sold for 253.3368 ETH or $164,000.

 

 

Today we’re seeing digital artwork sell for millions. “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” by Beeple, at Christie’s sold for $69 million.

 

Will these NFT artworks and digital items continue to sell? Undoubtedly. Will they continue to sell for millions of dollars? Possibly. But as with any new thing, the shine will eventually wear off, and a more reasonable norm will moderate the market.

 

And then people will realize the true value of the NFT in artwork: Provenance.

 

“The word provenance is derived from the French word provenir, meaning “to come from”. An ideal provenance captures the ownership history of a piece all the way back to the artist’s studio.

Verified provenance can prove the authenticity of a piece and greatly increase its value. Since art has been collectible for thousands of years, determining where a piece comes from is often a complex work of historical study and documentation.” -artworkarchive.com

 

Going back to that box of lettuce, and it’s journey via the blockchain, you can see how having an immutable, unforgeable history of an item going back to its creator can and will be not only appealing in the future, but mandatory for many collectors who want a guarantee they are not buying a fake. Forged provenance in the art world is an age-old con that becomes impossible with NFT technology. By linking a collectible to an NFT via the blockchain, a collector can guarantee they have the one and only unique item and it’s entire history from collector to collector going back to the artist or creator themselves.

 

As forged artwork is a common con, so are forged signatures in collectible markets. The ability to guarantee a signature not just through a ‘certificate of authenticity’, which can also be forged and faked. A guarantee on the blockchain is an inalterable, trustless guarantor of that authenticity.

 

Certified Guarantee Company or CGC is the most trusted name in certifying the authenticity of collectibles like cards and comic books, and has witnesses to attest to signings from artists and creators. Once an item is ‘slabbed’ or locked into a hard plastic case with a unique barcode and serial number, it becomes an ideal unique collectible to be linked with an NFT. The first of these CGC comic books has just been made available for auction on Rarible.com here:

 

 

 

From http://lonestarcomic.com Lonestar: Heart of the Hero by Mike S. Miller, former DC artist for the #1 digital comic book in the world 5 years running, Injustice: Gods Among Us launched his own company ‘Blacklist Universe’ three years ago, and has offered a signed NFT linked edition of the first printing of the first comic from his company. The photograph of the 9.8 graded gold signature series comic is registered into the blockchain, the serial number and barcode can be read to guarantee linkage to the real-world physical item.

 

This is the first such item to this author’s knowledge to be made available via the NFT marketplace, and therefore has an historical value in the space, but once collectors across the board start realizing the significance of having their collectibles provenance permanently and perfectly registered on the blockchain, it most certainly will not be the last.

 

When the fad fades, the true value of NFTs will become a reality to most if not all collectors of both digital and physical items. From crypto kitties to Babe Ruth pre-rookie baseball cards, NFT provenance will make collecting a safer, more profitable, and ultimately more satisfying hobby for all.

Karina Smitt

I'm not as much of a "CoMiCs NeEd MoAr DiVeRsItY & iNcLuSiOn" advocate as my girlfriend often is, but we both love funny books, crispy bacon, straight bourbon and hip hop. Add yet, we never vote the same, so we cancel each other out... and that works perfectly in my book!

JUST KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON