Facing financial losses due to the pandemic, the famed Uffizi Gallery is selling famous artworks as NFTs to recoup.
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence re-opened on May 6 after being shuttered for months due to the global pandemic. However, even on its first day, the gallery reportedly witnessed just over 1500 visitors. Before the pandemic, Uffizi saw 5000 or more visitors every day. Due to frequent and successive lockdowns beginning last year, the annual visitors to the gallery fell from 4.4 million to 1.2 million.
Faced with the financial overhead of running the gallery with sparse viewership, the gallery decided to turn towards the hottest art trend of the year – NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens. According to a report by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Uffizi has already sold a digital facsimile of the Doni Tondo, painted by Michaelangelo sometime in 1505-06. The work by purchased by an Italian woman for $170,000, as a birthday gift for her art collector husband.
For the NFT sale, Uffizi is working with Cinello, an Italy-based company that is working towards creating solutions for the digital sale of masterpieces. The digital versions of the artworks are called DAWs. Each DAW is designed in the exact same proportions as the original work and encrypted so that it is impossible to duplicate. Every DAW is accompanied by its NFT token and a certificate awarded by the gallery to certify its authenticity.
Buoyed by the traction that the first NFT sale witnessed, Uffizi is all set to sell even more masterpieces as NFTs. These include Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Raphael’s Madonna del Granduca, and Caravaggio’s Bacchus.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera, Eike Schmidt (Director, Uffizi) said that the revenue from the sale would help in mitigating the losses incurred by the gallery. He also that while NFT sale is an additional source of revenue, it is not easy to make such a market quickly.