The famous German art forger, Wolfgang Beltracchi, is the latest to join the NFT scene with his new NFT collection. Beltracchi is known for forging hundreds of paintings of famous artists such as Fernand Léger and Max Ernst. He was finally caught in 2010 and convicted the following year. He served three years of his six-year sentence and was released in 2015.
“The NFT market offers artists a platform to market themselves independently and makes them independent from traditional art market mechanisms,” Beltracchi was quoted in a press release.
The Greats: Wolfgang Beltracchi’s NFT collection
Cut to 2021, Wolfgang Beltracchi is dropping his NFT collection, titled “The Greats”. It features a total of 4,608 NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. All the NFTs are re-creations of Salvator Mundi, believed to be created by Leonardo da Vinci. The painting is not only the most expensive paintings in the world but also one of the most controversial pieces in history.
Beltracchi has divided his NFT collection into more than 30 individual series spread across seven eras in art history. The seven eras, according to the Greats website, are as follows:
- High Renaissance (1400–1550) – Leonardo da Vinci
- Post-Impressionism (1885–1910) – Vincent van Gogh
- Surrealism (1917–1950) – Salvador Dali
- Cubism (1907-1914) – Pablo Picasso
- Pop Art (1950-1970 – Roy Lichtenstein
- Factory Art (1962-1984) – Andy Warhol
Furthermore, Beltracchi has created each piece using the same techniques as the original artist. However, he has used photography and graphic design to digitally bring together each element.
The collection will go live at 8:00 PM CEST on October 18. However, as of now, Beltracchi has only revealed a few of the NFTs. The artist will unveil the full collection once the sale goes live. Furthermore, the sale will follow a Dutch auction and has a starting price of a whopping 10,000 ETH or around $350 million. Moreover, a buyer will only know what painting they are getting after minting.
Taking on the traditional art market
Wolfgang Beltracchi’s NFTs come at a time when art is moving from the traditional physical form to digital due to blockchain technology. Many believe that crypto art will dominate the art world for years to come.
According to The Greats website, “the traditional art elite wants to bury Beltracchi.” Following his imprisonment, the traditional art industry has been “working tirelessly” to prevent the public from accessing his works. Museums, galleries, and auction houses had imposed various restrictions on Beltracchi’s public exhibitions, preventing him from exhibiting there. However, blockchain technology and NFTs are giving the famous artist a new means to showcase and sell his works.
“It is in the art establishment’s utmost interest to maintain the status quo, and to continue to dictate what is and what isn’t art,” the website adds. “This is why we utilize the Internet and the Ethereum blockchain to give the world unrestricted access to one of the last living old masters of our time.”