It’s no secret that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have taken the art world’s collective imagination by storm over the past month. After Beeple’s landmark $69 million sale at Christie’s back in March, galleries, museums, and dealers alike have been scrambling to get a handle on this new development in blockchain technology, and all sorts of attendant questions abound — how does it all actually work? What impact will it have on the market at large? Do NFTs represent a shift or a fluke? Is this something more traditional organizations need to keep in mind?
Enter the Christie’s Education virtual course, “A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding NFTs,” presented in conjunction with AndArt Agency and set to take place from April 26 to 29. The webinar series, designed for gallery directors, collectors, and other establishment art folks who want expert input on the subject, offers a complete overview of NFTs, their cultural context, sales applications, and future viability.
The course takes place in four sessions: on day one, “History of NFTs and How We Got Here”; day two, “NFTs in Context: Is it Art? Why Do People Collect it?”; day three, “What Does the Future Hold?”; and day four, which will feature a roundtable discussion between an artist, curator, and moderator, followed by an open dialogue with students. Included in the presenter line-up are industry heavy-hitters like Bernadine Brocker-Wieder, CEO of Vastari Group; Fanny Lakoubay, crypto consultant; Zack Yanger, Chief Marketing Officer at Superare; Colborn Bell, private wealth manager; and Elliot Safra, Partner at AndArt Agency.
Safra — a strategist whose resume includes stints at Christie’s and Levy Gorvy before founding his own company, AndArt Agency, which concentrates on partnerships between global brands and the art world — doesn’t define himself as a “crypto guy.” “I’m an art world guy who has just been involved in crypto,” he tells Jing Culture & Commerce. As such, he’s had his eye on the sector for years. “When I was at Christie’s, I launched the Christie’s Art and Tech summit,” he says. “Each year, it was going to focus on a different technology and the impact that technology would have on the art world.” The first iteration in 2018 focused on blockchain, serving as “the genesis of when I started being involved in the NFT market,” according to him.
For Safra, when the NFT buzz started taking off in November of last year, the seed was planted for a course that brought crypto enthusiasts and art world mainstays together. “There are so many questions and so many people want to jump on the bandwagon, and there’s so much confusion and misinformation out there,” he says. “This course will tell you everything you need to know before you make the decisions about jumping in.”
The Christie’s Education course is designed to give students the tools they need to enter the NFT arena, which, in Safra’s view, has the potential to impact art creation, technology, and commerce. “We’ll talk about how it’s going to go into gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality… it’s going to be totally transformative,” he says.
Vitally, it will also help cut through the hype and get to the real value of blockchain to the art market. “The outrageous prices people are seeing don’t justify the market today, they justify the future of the market,” he notes, “The big investments that are being made and the investors who are active in the space aren’t thinking about today; they’re thinking about ten, twenty years from now. Those potential applications are already being built.”