A print by famous, outspoken, and anonymous artist Banksy was burnt in a live stream and sold as a digital token for $380,000. The print was an illustration of a scene from an art auction. A critique of the state of the art industry, the print was accompanied with the words: “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this.”
Just as ridiculous (and enraging to some) was a duct-taped banana that had sold for $120,000 at Miami’s Art Basel in 2018. Some observers felt that this was a demonstration of how capitalism deprives art of its meaning. Others might argue that the meaning of art, as demonstrated by the duct-taped banana, is dependent on the context and viewer.
Moreover, who is to say how much is too much when it comes to the price of art?
A partially destroyed Banksy piece is now worth millions more than the closing bid on what it had originally been on auction for—as an intact painting. The irony is that the painting had only “self-destructed” once the piece had been purchased at its final bid. Banksy confirmed that the shredding of the piece was indeed real and that no one, not even the auction house, had known about the imminent self-destruction until it had occurred. Sotheby’s called the shredding “instant art world history.”
The art world is filled with stunts, but certain spectacles raise more questions than others. How is it that a painting appreciates more when there is less of it intact? Was the appreciation of the shredded painting a result of the notoriety gained from its spectacle? Or was it that the self-destruction made that Banksy piece all the more…Banksy?
There are certain questions that may never be met with answers. The materiality of art has come under hot debate with the rise of NFTs. Non-fungible tokens are meant to represent ownership of intellectual property, allowing artists to sell their digital art. However, even with the sale of an NFT, the artist can still retain copyright and reproduction rights to the work. Many skeptics argue that the value of an NFT is stored in an idea rather than anything real, and since that idea cannot be substantiated in any physical way, the inherent value of an NFT is…well, nothing.
That said, the purpose of cryptocurrency isn’t lost when it comes to buying and selling other goods and services. Unlike digital art, real estate is real. Real estate properties are physical assets that exist in the real world, governed by ownership laws that have existed in the United States legal system for decades.
Block chain real estate technology is empowering buyers and sellers with more security and speed than traditional transactions. With smart contracts, certain transactions can be automated under certain criteria to self-execute on the blockchain, expediting processes that require due diligence like ownership transfer.
Moreover, real estate tokenization can give more people access to real estate investing, through fractional ownership. Rather than buying or selling a property in its entirety, fractional real estate provides liquidity. Each real estate token represents a fraction of a real asset, which can be converted to cash with relative ease.