Former Christie’s ‘Rainmaker’ brings NFTs to fine art collectors

In short

  • Loïc Gouzer, former co-president of auction house Christie’s, will woo buyers of traditional art for his first NFT auction.
  • The NFT is a 3D animation of an egg and a lighter by contemporary artist Urs Fischer.
  • Gouzer has the final say on the offer, which he accepts. He told Decrypt that he wanted a high price while accepting “a price that makes it as democratic as possible”.

The man who auctioned the most expensive work of art in history, Leonardo da Vinci Salvador Mundi, for $450.3 million is auctioning its first NFT on its app for art collectors, a 3D animation of an egg and lighter modeled by contemporary artist Urs Fischer.

Often called the rainmaker for his wildly successful art auctionsLoïc Gouzer was from 2015 to 2018 co-president of Christie’s, the auction house that sold Beeple’s NFT for $69.3 million last month.

In 2018, Gouzer left Christie’s and created Fair Warning, an art auction app. The app, which was launched last summer, auctioned a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat for $10.8 million, setting a record for the biggest in-app purchase.

Now the rainmaker is getting into NFTs and bringing with him a host of traditional art collectors.

Loic Gouzer. Image courtesy of Gouzer.

Gouzer says Decrypt from his home on Long Island that selling to crypto natives would have excluded fine art collectors. “There are great minds on both sides, and creative juices could come out of a dialogue between the two.”

And chances are that Gouzer’s first NFT client, Fischer, will make it rain again: Fischer’s previous work, Untitled (Lamp/Bear)a giant statue of a bear sitting under a lamp sold for $6 million at a Christie’s auction in 2011.

CHAOS #1 Human

Fischer’s NFT, titled CHAOS #1 Human, will begin accepting offers Sunday at 5 p.m. EDT.

The NFT Egg and Lighter is a shrine to human power, Fischer explained to Decrypt. Fire and egg fertilization were once purely natural processes, but humans have conquered both: fire fits in our pockets and our eggs come from battery farms.

“The egg is such absolute, stunning perfection that there aren’t many of them in nature,” Fischer said.

Urs Fischer, courtesy of Fischer

And, due to the scarcity of NFTs, there is only one Fischer egg/lighter NFT on the blockchain. Bidding for the one-of-a-kind crypto collectible starts at a modest $1,000 and will end once Gouzer is happy with the price.

“I run a small auction house, so of course instinctively I want a high price. But there’s also a part of me that just wants to sell at a price that makes it as democratic as possible,” Gouzer said. “My right brain wants a big price and my left brain wants a low price so anyone has a chance of getting a great job.”

If Gouzer’s right brain ends up kicking the poor out, Fischer has another 500 NFTs on the way, each, again, combinations of two everyday objects.

Fischer will sell these NFTs on MakersPlace, the NFT marketplace that Fair Warning has partnered with for its NFT sale; MakersPlace creates the NFTs and stores metadata and assets on IPFS, a decentralized web hosting network.

Next, Fischer will sell an NFT that combines the 1,000 “everyday” items in a sale reminiscent of Beeple’s EVERYDAYS NFT, which features 5,000, since tokenized, artworks drawn on each of the previous 5,000 days. .

Subsequent Fischer sales on MakersPlace will be very different from Fair Warning sales. Unlike MakersPlace, Fair Warning verifies new listings, which means Gouzer and his team will know the identity of the NFT buyer.

“It’s not that we’re snobs,” Gouzer said. “On the app, we sell works for millions of dollars and we need to know the buyers.”

The business of selling art, after all, has always faced the problem of money laundering– a concern that now also applies to NFTs worth $1 million, as the anti-money laundering watchdog FATF warned last month.

Selling NFT is no different for Gouzer than selling traditional artwork. The old rules therefore still apply.

But beyond the hype, something else seduces the two men.

For Gouzer and Fischer, NFTs offer the exact opposite of what characterizes conventional works of art today. The traditional art industry is dominated by patronage: a few hand-picked artists, a few galleries, and of course, a few wealthy patrons, they explained.

NFTs, on the other hand, open up a decentralized future for art.

Subscribe to decryption newsletters!

Get the best stories curated daily, weekly highlights and deep dives straight to your inbox.