One of Andy Warhol’s most internationally renowned pieces of art is going on the auction block. The artwork, “14 Small Electric Chairs,” won’t be auctioned like other pieces, however. It will be the subject of a cryptocurrency art auction.
According to Maecenas, Dadiani Syndicate, a crypto-friendly art gallery in the UK, will be auctioning fractional ownership of the pieces on June 20. The auction will offer a 49% stake in the painting, valued at $5.6 million. Bidders will have the opportunity to purchase digital certificates of partial ownership using the Maecenas blockchain and its ART token, or with BTC or Ethereum.
The artwork, created in 1980, is 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall and features 14 electric chairs. Along with Warhol’s works Campbell’s Tomato Soup Can, Dollar Bill, Marilyn Monroe and Green Coca-Cola, Electric Chair is considered to be an icon and an all-American emblem.
This isn’t the first time that crypto has been used to buy art—in January, four paintings were bought with cryptocurrencies at Art Stage Singapore—but the Warhol piece is undoubtedly the most high profile art sale to date. The final price of the painting will be determined by smart contracts run on the Ethereum blockchain. Maecenas has set the auction reserve at $4 million, and all bidders must comply with “Know Your Customer” and anti-money laundering regulations.
Maecenas develops digital certificates for works of art on the blockchain. The tamper-proof certificates can then be used by investors to buy or sell the artwork on the Maecenas exchange. Of the auction, Maecenas CEO Marcelo Garcia Casil said, “We’re making history. This event marks the first-ever artwork to be tokenised and to be sold using blockchain technology. We are proud to be pioneers in this space – this is the result of many years of hard work. This Warhol is the first artwork of many more to come. We’re starting this exciting journey alongside our strategic partner Dadiani, who not only fully supports our vision, but also will play a key long-term role in helping us transform the art market.”
The Dadiani gallery, located in London, began accepting cryptocurrency as a payment option in 2017. The Dadiani Syndicate, billed as a luxury marketplace, accepts Ethereum, BTC and Litecoin. Eleesa Dadiani, founder of the syndicate, said, “For the first time ever high-value, blue-chip art works will be available for everybody to own utilising the unique technology platform developed by Maecenas.”