The Picasso estate has blocked the sale of more than 1,000 NFTs due to be released by the late artist’s granddaughter and great-grandson. Marina Picasso and her son Florian, a DJ and music producer, planned to sell a ceramic work, dating from 1958, by Picasso at an in-real-life auction and also mint the piece as an NFT (non-fungible token). But the Picasso Administration warned that without its permission, the crypto collection, known as Man & the Beat, would be deemed “counterfeit”.
Cyril Noterman, Florian Picasso’s manager, tells The Art Newspaper however that “the NFT sale hasn't been cancelled but postponed, and we'll communicate tomorrow the details to clarify as much as possible the situation which we understand must be confusing right now”. It is currently unclear what form this will take.
In an interview last week with the Associated Press, Marina and Florian Picasso outlined their plans, which involved selling five limited sets of 200 NFTs entitled Visage de Couleur, based on the ceramics design, on their own platform manandthebeat.com. At the time of writing, this website states that the “date and time of the sale [is] coming soon”. Ten Visage de Lumière NFTs were also scheduled to be dropped on the Nifty Gateway platform and sold during a 24-hour auction.
The singer John Legend had written a new song to accompany the NFT drop, which was overseen by Mil & Honey Labs, a music and sports management company. A portion of the proceeds would have been donated to Carbon180, a non-governmental organisation focused on climate change. It is unclear where the ceramic piece was due to be auctioned physically.
“The information given through the media by which the Picasso heirs would join into the market for ‘Pablo Picasso’ NFTs is completely wrong,” Jean-Jacques Neuer, the attorney at law for the Picasso Administration, told the Associated Press. He added that the organisation has not approved the sale of any "Picasso NFT" and that any NFTs by Florian Picasso and his collaborators are “his own creation, independent of any claim vis-a-vis Pablo Picasso and his works”. Neuer confirmed this decision to The Art Newspaper.
The Picasso Administration manages works held by five of Picasso’s three surviving children—Maya Widmaier Picasso, Claude Picasso and Paloma Picasso—along with two of his grandchildren, Marina and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso. Claude Picasso objected to the NFT plan which meant that any NFT issued without approval would be “counterfeit”, Neuer says. Asked if this saga should act as a warning to anyone else hoping to issue a Picasso NFT without authorisation, Neuer says: “It’s not the issue here as Florian is a family member but at the end of the day, yes.”
UPDATE (4 February): Marina and Florian Picasso released a series of NFTs for sale on 3 February. The sale is described on the Nifty Gateway platform: "Visage de Lumière is a limited edition of 10 NFTs by Florian Picasso and Visage de Demain is his first 1-of-1 NFT for which the winning bidder will also receive a physical piece of art from Marina Picasso's private collection."
Marina and Florian Picasso say in a statement: "As we clearly stated previously, this is a Florian Picasso NFT. We, and our team, have been working on this project for over 11 months and Man & The Beat is the genesis collection of a long-term ambition we have.” A portion of the NFT sale proceeds will go to the Nurse Heroes charity.
Jean-Jacques Neuer, the lawyer representing the Picasso Administration, says it has requested that Nifty Gateway clearly displays: "The NFTs are the personal creation of Marina and Florian Picasso, not related to Pablo Picasso, his name and his work.”