Posted January 12, 2023, 8:01am
Founder of a crypto-investment company, Kenetic Capital, in Hong Kong, Jehan Chu initially worked at Sotheby’s before becoming an artistic consultant on his own, later dedicating himself entirely to the crypto universe. Today he lives between Hong Kong and Puerto Rico and presents himself as a collector of “classic” artistic NFTs (Refik Anadol, Beeple…) and as an investor in NFT platforms. He says he has invested in 250 blockchain companies and 25 that focus on NFTs. In addition, he advises Christie’s on cryptocurrencies, artists such as Refik Anadol and various institutions.
Where is the art NFT market?
The NFT market follows the same line as the crypto market. Its fall began with that of Terra Luna [projet de blockchain sud-coréen qui permettait la création de stablecoins, NDLR] then from TFC [plateforme de NFT spécialisée dans l’univers du football, NDLR] and finally from FTX [place de marché centralisée de cryptomonnaies dont la faillite en novembre dernier a eu un énorme retentissement, NDLR]. The art NFT market is mainly supported by cryptocurrency investors. The value of the collected works is often defined in cryptocurrency, and in particular in ether (the cryptocurrency linked to the Ethereum blockchain). Naturally all of these events have had a significant downward influence on the price of NFT art, but also on the volume of transactions.
For example, collectibles like Bored Ape [des NFT à l’effigie de singes, NDLR] they’ve dropped from $200,000 or $300,000 for the cheapest to $80,000 or $85,000, what’s called the floor price.
Similarly, we have seen that the price of Beeple works [l’artiste qui a enregistré un record aux enchères en 2021 chez Christie’s à 69,3 millions de dollars, NDLR] dropped from $100,000 or $200,000 to $20,000 or $30,000 for cheapest works on Opensea [une place de marché pour les NFT, NDLR].
We can say that every artist corresponds to a market. There are also different editions and series which are more popular than others. Thus Refik Anadol (born in 1985), an artist who uses virtual reality is the subject of an exhibition at the moment at the Moma. This is the first major classic museum exhibition for someone who is considered a true NFT artist and his work continues to demonstrate the strength of him. He hasn’t been affected to the same degree as the others. Refik has several types of works. When Moma announced his exhibition, there was a surge of interest in his work. Refik publishes his works in large numbers. We’ve seen his prices go from 3 or 4 ethers to 1 or 2 ethers. Which equates to a 60% drop versus a 70% or 80% drop for the others…
Haven’t drops in value in the blockchain world discredited NFTs? How can we imagine the sequel?
As always in art, it is important to understand the artist’s creative context which allows us to judge its relevance. The best evidence that NFT art is not an uninked phenomenon is that it is the subject of a number of institutional exhibitions. In addition to the Moma in New York, we can mention the Kunsthalle in Zurich, which is currently organizing an NFT exhibition (1).
Doesn’t the field of artistic NFTs suffer from a lack of experience?
Absolutely. It is now up to the curators of the exhibition to do the work. Today, well-known institutions such as Hong Kong’s M+ Museum of Contemporary Art showcase NFT art with “Human One”, which is Beeple’s large-scale artwork. The work had previously been exhibited at the Turin Museum, Castello di Rivoli. Today they are active in the field of NFT. Contemporary art institutions show, collect, sell NFT art. And the NFT is a medium that has not yet realized its full potential.
But don’t recent price drops send the wrong signal?
In artistic NFTs, prices fluctuate, as in art in general. This is a trend that we also observe for certain old masters or contemporary artists. What I remember today is the new and reassuring phenomenon of interest from the institutions.
Even very established artists such as the Swiss living in Los Angeles, Urs Fischer, are interested in creating NFTs…
I really appreciate the work of Urs Fischer in the field of NFTs and I collect it.
In this case, prices have fallen sharply. Each NFT is produced as a one-of-a-kind piece and could be worth $120,000 each at launch more than a year ago. The average price today is between $20,000 and $30,000. But we cannot generalize. Prices vary according to the works.
Other visual artists like Roe Ethridge, Ian Cheng, Katharina Grosse are exploring this medium today.
Franco Stella [un des initiateurs de l’art minimal américain, NDLR] has launched an outstanding NFT. Based on 20 unrealized sculptures, he published 20 modified NFTs in 100 copies. The owner has the right to download the digital file and 3D print the physical part in any color and material they wish. These NFTs launched at $1,000 each. The Whitney Museum in New York and the National Gallery in Washington are said to have acquired the entire series.
What advice would you give to people who now want to buy art NFTs?
As in art in general, there are exceptional opportunities at the beginning of a movement to access works that embody time. Our period is crucial as it has produced a completely “digital native” culture. The NFT will be the brush and canvas for future generations of artists.
NFTs have also created a whole new generation of enthusiasts picking up “digital native” artists. Gradually, they will become interested in physical art, and the physical and digital arts will merge. Now is the perfect time to build a world class collection. Because the prices are low and access to the works is open.
What are the dangers of such a collection?
These are the same as in any other category of art. The first is certainly speculation. I think piracy is also a problem. Works from a “wallet” on a computer are easier to seize and transport than stolen works from a real house.
(1) Dyor, Until 15 January 2023. Kunsthalle; Zurich. The first institutional exhibition on art in the context of blockchain and NFT in Switzerland. kunsthallezurich.ch/en