Move over Ai Weiwei and Larry Gagosian.
The most influential “figure” in the international art world is the Non-Fungible Token (NFT), ArtReview magazine’s annual Power 100 list found.
Previously topped by Chinese dissident artist Weiwei and global gallery owner Gagosian, the poll of the most influential figures in the art world has bowed to the billions of pounds now being speculated on NFTs.
Number one on the 2021 Power 100 is ERC-721, the blockchain technology which underpins the sale of digitally generated “crypto-artworks” in the form of unique digital “tokens” which verify ownership.
A trade report by insurance providers Hiscox estimated the NFT market to have turned over $3.5bn (£2.6bn) in the year to August.
Everydays, a digital collage by the graphic artist Beeple, became the world’s most valuable NFT, which sold at auction for $69m at Christie’s in March. It was the third highest price for a living artist’s work, beaten only by David Hockney and Jeff Koons.
A NFT of a series of pixelated avatars called Cryptopunks sold for $11.8m (£8.7m) at Sotheby’s. Damien Hirst entered the market with a drop of 10,000 NFTs, called The Currency, corresponding to 10,000 physical artworks. Some $500m was estimated to have been traded on Hirst’s NFT platform.
ArtReview said: “NFTs (and with them cryptocurrency and all that comes with it) have upended the art market, bringing contemporary art and millennial meme culture crashing together.”
“With staggering prices achieved for works by Beeple and others in the last year, the art market has discovered a new generation of collectors, while artists around the world have discovered a way to market their art that bypasses the old art-dealer system.”
“Whether it’s a new way of doing things or the emperor’s new clothes remains to be seen, but artists, gallerists and museums around the world have been moving over the past year to catch up with the action.”
The arrival of ERC-721 pushed Weiwei (39) and Gagosian (25) down the list. James Murdoch – son of Rupert Murdoch – is a player in the art world at number 70, after becoming a controlling shareholder in the influential Art Basel fairs.
James ranks higher than sister Elisabeth Murdoch (90), who is married to Turner Prize-winning artist Keith Tyson and is an Arts Council England council member.
Normally used to topping polls of the world’s most influential people, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who invites local artists to decorate the walls at the tech giant’s offices, takes last place in the art Power 100. Metaverse, the virtual reality world Zuckerberg wants Facebook to morph into, is set to become an important marketplace for NFT art.
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