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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

Pablo Picasso’s Heirs Launch NFT for One of his Works

The power hitters of the tech world aren’t the only ones looking to cash in on the stampede into The Metaverse. Artists and their heirs are hoping to get in on the action, too.

Most recently it has been the heirs of Pablo Picasso, the famed 20th-century Spanish artist, who are relying on his talent and notoriety in the art world to produce sales of 1,010 digital art pieces of one of his ceramic works that has never before been seen publicly — riding a fad for “crypto” assets that have taken the art and financial worlds by storm.

Picasso’s granddaughter, Marina Picasso, and her son Florian Picasso provided a brief glimpse of the piece behind what they have billed as an unprecedented fusion of old-school fine art and digital assets. More specifically, they are seeking to cash in on and ride a wave of interest in non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, which have netted millions for lesser-known artists, and which have been criticized by many as environmentally costly, usually unsuccessful “get rich quick” schemes.

For those unfamiliar with NFTs, a fungible token is an asset that can be exchanged on a one-for-one basis, such as dollars or bitcoins, each of which has the exact same value and can be traded freely. A non-fungible object, however, theoretically should have its own distinct value, such as a work of art or a classic car.

Taken in conjunction with cryptocurrency technology known as the ‘blockchain’ this concept produces NFTs. They are effectively digital certificates of authenticity that can be attached to digital art or anything else that comes in digital form, but they do not represent true ownership in the thing itself. In fact, they do not represent ownership in the copyright for the thing being sold. And, as such, they have proven wildly controversial as a measure of value.

“We’re trying to build a bridge between the NFT world and the fine art world,” said Florian Picasso, the artist’s great-grandson. What he left unsaid was the obvious fact that Picasso’s living heirs are hoping the NFT sales will trigger a resurgence of interest in Picasso’s artwork and translate into substantial real-world income for the dead artist’s work.

Why It Matters. It remains to be seen if NFTs have any real lasting power and it is certainly possible that by adding traditional, well-known artists and their works to NFTs there may be both an increase in interest and, perhaps, a modicum of legitimacy. However, there is no agreement on the subject, and it will undoubtedly be several years before anyone knows for sure.

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