What's a non-fungible token and should the French art world be worried?

© Goldshteyn-Saatort gallery

An art gallery in Paris is showing and selling things called non-fungible tokens of digital art. Basically, the buyer gets a code for his money, and that code gives him unique individual access to a work of art. Will NFTs, as the codes are called, become the next big thing in the art world, or are they just a speculative tool to make money – or both?

Gaspard Tertrais discovered the world of cryptoculture during the first Covid lockdown in the spring of 2019, when he was sitting at home in the western city of Angers, looking for a way to invest the money he was saving by not going out drinking with his friends.

He bought his first NFT when coded access to digital art first started attracting the attention of investors at the end of 2020.

“Initially you think it’s stupid,” he says, of his first impression of the millions spent on digital images via NFTs.

In fact, he now believes, the digital code is just like the artist's signature on an original painting. And the technology, the mind-boggling blockchain which is identical to that used by digital currencies like Bitcoin, guarantees the code holder's unique access to the work in question.

"It’s pretty amazing,” Tertrais says.

Find a version of this story in the Spotlight on France podcast:

He has, however, amassed a collection of NFTs of pop culture.


Read more on RFI

Read also:
Podcast: NFTs in Paris, Simone Veil on screen, fingerprint technology
Israel arrests suspects over stolen millions in crypto fraud against French treasury
How a digital artist is bringing Cezanne's colorful universe to life