Art On The Blockchain

7 min read

The blockchain is changing the art world for the better via digital scarcity, allowing more people to invest in fine art, and creating a more ethical way of paying artists.

It is really easy to copy and pirate artists’ work which diminishes the value of their originals. Similar to having only 21 million Bitcoins, digital art is limited and may only have 100 copies to be sold. Logging art ownership on the blockchain can help reduce fraud and allows for artists to receive payment for their art in a way that is quicker than traditional platforms, all while cutting out intermediaries. This allows for a more significant percentage to go towards artist compensation. Platforms like Maecenas allows people that are not wealthy or accredited investors to invest in fine art, which has proven to be one of the greatest ways to grow your money.

Recently, Olivier Sarrouy created an art project called “Ready- Made token” putting a single Ethereum token up for auction via The Distributed Gallery and signed it under the pseudonym “Richard Price” …even though Richard Prince is a well-known artist and not a random pseudonym. Olivier claims this was to make a point about how a regular object from the real world has more value because someone well known in the art world signed it.

Here’s an interview with Olivier if you’re interested in the reasoning behind the artistic scam. But if all of Richard’s actual art pieces were on the blockchain people would have an easy way to know that this one was an imposter.


Maecenas is a platform that has Blockchain based auctions of fine art. Anyone can use the platform, but for the private beta, only 100 accredited investors could participate. This site collects all of your Know Your Customer (KYC) information because all of the art pieces are blue-chip works with one million USD and above. You can buy shares of fine art for $5,000 and upwards of Bitcoin, Ethereum or Marcenas ART token equivalent. Using the ART token users get the 2% buyer fee waived to try and build up the coin’s network effect. Smart Contracts on the Maecenas platform will convert the cryptocurrency being used into ART tokens.

Even though most people won’t have physical possession of the fine art, they can diversify their portfolio by combining crypto with these artistic creations. The platform has said that if there is enough demand, they may implement an art leasing facility to temporarily hold the piece of art for a fee and then distribute the proceeds as income to the art shareholders.

The platform works differently if you are a gallery, an individual user, a family office or a collector. Recently John McAfee partnered with them for Project Phoenix to help tokenize Picasso’s art on the platform.

Rare Pepes

So we’ve touched on fine art and now …internet memes. We can’t talk about art and the blockchain without mentioning Rare Pepes. Rare Pepes became an internet sensation in 2015 after a collection was posted on eBay. Now they are digital asset trading cards with their ownership logged the Bitcoin blockchain, via the Rare Pepe Directory, or Ethereum blockchain via Pepe dApp. There is a Pepe Cash coin, and a Rare Pepe wallet, Book of Orbs- a mobile Counterparty wallet to use on your phone, and people have spent thousands of dollars on Pepe. One Homer Pepe sold for 350,000 Pepecash or $39,000 USD.

Rare Pepe ’s aren’t the only art with their digital rights being stored on the blockchain. Platforms that are selling digital art also include R.A.R.E. Art,, Curio Cards, Super Rare, and Pixura. Codex Protocol is a decentralized title registry for art & collectibles.


Remember Kodak film in old-school cameras? Well, Kodak tried to make a comeback by integrating blockchain technology to the physical art world. They came up with KodakCoin which is described as a “photo-centric cryptocurrency” designed to help photographers and agencies with image rights management.” This was to be coupled with a Bitcoin-mining computer called the Kodak KashMiner. Users would pay $3,400 to rent the machine for two years. Additionally, half of the coins mined would go back to Spotlite, the company licensing Kodak’s name, and the user would keep the other half. The project didn’t last very long as traditional Bitcoin mining equipment can be purchased for less money, and ready-made miners are already selling for significantly less with only about a 5% cut.

The other reason the project didn’t work is that their SEC compliance with (SAFT) or the Simple Agreement for Future Tokens. This required the token holders be accredited investors, which most of the population isn’t. To be an accredited investor, you must have a net worth of at least $1,000,000 excluding the value of your primary residence or have an income of at least $200,000 each year (or $300,000 combined if you’re married) for the last two years.

Having a platform keep digital media rights was a good idea since that is a huge issue for artists, but its white paper and team may have been the reason it did not succeed. It’s a good example of putting new wine in old wineskins. Kodak doesn’t know about blockchain, and they caught the attention of the SEC. The SEC’s chairman Jay Clayton said they were looking closely at the disclosures of public companies that shift their business models to blockchain technologies. Many people’s reactions were that Kodak Coin was just trying to make a comeback. Jeff Clarke, Kodak’s chief executive said the company’s ambitions were a genuine way to solve the issue of ownership of images.  And the correlation between Kodak and digital media rights makes sense, but their understanding of the crypto space didn’t. Criticism of the white paper also didn’t help with their launch.

Crypto Artists

Some artists are making their portfolio about #cryptoart! Nanu Berks and Josephine Bellini are both crypto artists that make prints, clothing and commissioned pieces all crypto themed. Click the link if you want to hear an interview Blockchain Insitute did with Josephine. Cryptograffiti does educational street art and prints and clothing. Check them all out!

Know of any other badass crypto artists or platforms? Throw them in the comments and don’t forget to hit like, subscribe, and the bell!