Auction to Offer Fractional Stake in Warhol Work

Care to own part of an Andy Warhol? A London-based fine art gallery is holding a “cryptocurrency art auction” on June 20. The auction is for sale of shares for ownership in Warhol’s 1980 piece “14 Small Electric Chairs.” 

Dadiani Syndicate is a subsidiary of Dadiani Fine Art. It has partnered with Maecenas, a blockchain platform that calls itself “a decentralized art gallery” for investors to purchase shares in famous works. This means that the painting will be owned by a group of owners, instead of an individual. In this case, Dadiani is holding the auction for 49% ownership in the painting. Presumably, the gallery will retain majority ownership of the work. (See also: What Is Blockchain Technology?)

Owners of a painting make money from an increase in its value or by selling their share of the painting to interested owners. Warhol’s painting is estimated to be worth $5.6 million. The painting’s reserve price (or the minimum sale price) at the auction is set at $4 million. As is the case with all things blockchain, ART tokens will be used to conduct transactions involving paintings and digital certificates establish ownership share for auction winners. Participants in the auction must satisfy KYC and AML legal regulations. Maecenas claims that its platform enables investors to create a portfolio of ownership in various works of art, much like a stock portfolio. (See also: Can Blockchain End Fake News?)

This is the first instance of blockchain’s use for an art auction. Otherwise, the technology’s main utility lies in establishing ownership and provenance for major art pieces. For example, Berlin-based Ascribe works with artists to establish a cryptographic identity for their artwork. They can use the ID to securely transfer copyright and establish authenticity for their works. enables users to purchase limited-edition digital artworks, but it is, for now, restricted to new pieces.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns small amounts of bitcoin and litecoin. 

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