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British Museum banks on Turner NFTs after Hokusai initiative

Prices for Ultra Rare editions start at €4,999 but museum sales percentage remains under wraps

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Joseph Mallord William Turner, A Storm (Shipwreck, 1823) © 2022, The Trustees of the British Museum

Joseph Mallord William Turner, A Storm (Shipwreck, 1823) © 2022, The Trustees of the British Museum

The British Museum (BM) in London is diving into the NFT field once again with the sale of JMW Turner paintings, drawn from its collection, as non-fungible tokens. The BM is partnering again with LaCollection.io to sell the Turner pieces; last year, the museum joined forces with the French start-up to sell NFTs of 200 Hokusai works.

The 20 Turner paintings come from a collection bequeathed to the museum by Robert Wylie Lloyd, a former chairman of Christie’s, who died in 1958. Lloyd stipulated that the works by the 18th-century artist known as the “painter of light” could only be shown for two weeks in February or by special request, and should never be lent. The watercolours The Colosseum, Rome (around 1820) and Lucerne by Moonlight (1843) are included in the NFT sale.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Colosseum, Rome (1920) © 2022, The Trustees of the British Museum

The Turner NFT works are in three categories: nine will be Ultra Rare (two editions, one of which will be retained by the British Museum); seven will be Super Rare (ten editions, one of which will be retained by the British Museum), and four will be Open Edition with a maximum of 99 editions to be sold over a 48-hour period. Prices for the Open Edition NFTs will start at €799, and the Ultra Rare Turner editions at €4,999.

“Building and rewarding its community is a cornerstone of the LaCollection project and with this in mind the first Ultra Rare and Open Edition NFTs will be exclusively made available to existing community members who have previously purchased a Hokusai NFT,” according to a statement from LaCollection. This private sale takes place from 8 to 9 February while general market sales run from 9 February to 4 March.

Asked about the sales cut received by the British Museum, a spokeswoman says: "We partnered with LaCollection as the commercial terms were right for the British Museum and reflected the museum’s considerable contribution to the programme. While the royalty deal is confidential, the percentage of sales agreed is among the highest in our licensing portfolio."

LaCollection was co-founded by the entrepreneur Jean-Sébastien Beaucamps. His previous professional experience often consisted of helping enterprises move into the digital sphere. Beaucamps contacted some 30 institutions—from museums to art galleries—via LinkedIn, and the BM responded positively.

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