I barely know what cryptocurrency is, and when NFTs (non-fungible tokens) started popping up and selling for millions I got even more confused. Why are people buying artwork that they can’t hang up in their home?

So when the Mayfair gallery HOFA (House of Fine Art) announced that they were showing a new NFT exhibition, I thought how is this possible when artworks are digital? And then I thought it would be a good idea to ask them a few questions to get to the bottom of it all. Luckily for us, Elio D’Anna, the Founder of HOFA, was more than happy to oblige.

JAN KALÁB, BREATHING VIOLET VOID2021

NFTs are not just an image, but a sort of content. People have gone as far making an NFT out of the first ever Twitter post or unique bit of internet coding.

What is an NFT?

An NFT, stands for non-fungible token. Put simply, it is a technology that allows transfer of ownership of pretty much anything that can be registered with the blockchain. And in order to transfer the ownership, there is a smart contract that acts as a sort of lawyer. It confirms the terms of that transfer of ownership via the NFT.

So, if we’ve understood correctly, there are lots of digital versions of art out there, kind of like a GIF, but that nobody can replicate. But does that mean that people are paying a load of money for art they can’t actually hang up in their house?

NFTs are not just an image, but a sort of content. People have gone as far making an NFT out of the first ever Twitter post or unique bit of internet coding. So basically, it’s not so much the subject, but more about who created it and how unique it is.

NFTs are really about the rights and proof of ownership of a particular item, whether that’s a gif, a video, a contract, it could be anything. But in the very near future the whole real estate market will adopt this technology and sell houses this way. So, the answer is yes, people are buying stuff that they can’t hang on walls, however, you can buy screens that can portrait the NFTs or digital artworks that you own.

Can people just make copies of NFTs that look exactly the same? 

That’s the really interesting part about the whole technology. The technology analyses the file at a molecular level which goes 10,000 times deeper than your normal eye and is able to tell when another copy is submitted, and it will reject it.

How can people be sure they have the original? 

The key with anything when you’re buying a car, a watch, a piece of art, you always have to be extremely careful and do all the due diligence to cheque the provenance. Always buy from retailers and galleries that have a direct relationship with the artists. Check the artists websites and social media to confirm that they are indeed doing a release with the gallery. It’s very important to always buy from reputable institutions.

TYLER HOBBS, FIDENZA #374, 2021
KJETIL GOLID, ARCHETYPE, 2021

Soon NFTs will become normal, much in the same way as electronic bank transfers have replaced going into a bank.

Many critics have said that this type of art is just a bubble that’s waiting to burst. Why do you think NFTs are here to stay?

HOFA was the first gallery in the world to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment and have since launched NFT exhibitions. Over the last few years and months, we’ve seen a real boom. This is because there are so many creative artists that are making some really exceptional works in the digital medium.

We do everything digitally, on our mobiles, and via apps. It would be a mistake to think that the art world does not align itself with our everyday life – digital art is absolutely here to stay. The possibilities and way it can inspire the everyday life is exceptional.

There’s so much being done in terms of VR, technology, holographic visuals and we’re just seeing the beginning of it. I always find it quite funny when people say it’s a bubble. This technology is just about to burst in a much bigger way because the financial institutions are adopting it. Luxury brands are adopting it. Lifestyle brands are adopting it. The art world is just one of the first ones, but it’s about to become mainstream.

Soon it will become normal, much in the same way as electronic bank transfers have replaced going into a bank. Coinbase is practically replacing paper. And you can also convert your crypto wallet into any field currency and now all of the major crypto wallets also have cards issued by Visa.

LARVA LABS, SEALED CRYPTOPUNK #3036, 2018
LARVA LABS, SEALED CRYPTOPUNK #207, 2018
LARVA LABS, SEALED CRYPTOPUNK #3122, 2018

Grimes sold some NFTs she made, and Twitter’s founder Jack Dorsey also made an NFT out of his first Tweet. Can anyone create an NFT? 

Absolutely. That’s why it’s so exciting. Anyone can create an NFT. There are many platforms out there. When it comes to us, we obviously curate and work with artists who share a similar vision and interests. However, we are always open to finding, exploring and discovering new artists. We’re very excited to say that we’re one of the first websites in the world where you can mint your own art. You can put it up for sale through auctions or through us directly, so this is something that we’re going to be growing and growing. In early 2022, we are launching an emerging platform strictly for NFTs called Kreation.

Your latest exhibition is showcasing NFTs alongside physical art. Does that mean people can see the NFTs in your gallery, or do they still have to go online to see them?

Absolutely. We have screens throughout the gallery where you’ll be able to see the NFTs. We also have a mobile app, which you can download by scanning a QR code. On the app, you can also access exclusive content from the exhibition. You can also bid using Metaverse bidding, which requires a digital wallet, in this case something like Metamask. Once you’re set up you can make bids in the gallery during the event or even in the comfort of your home. Some of the NFTS have been made into exclusive prints and others are strictly displayed on large LED screens.

Who are the most exciting NFT artists out there? 

We’ve had the pleasure and honour to work with Jan Kaláb who is one of the most talented painters and sculptural artists. He became very interested in the NFT space and we had a chat back in January and we decided to release his first ever NFT at the end of April in our Matter of Form show, which sold to a huge collector in Hong Kong for over $44,000 at the time. He’s one of the most exciting artists we have the pleasure to represent.

In terms of other artists out there, I’m a big fan of the early purveyors of this world, such as, Larva Labs. I think it is incredible how they made it into this collectible world.

MUTANT APE YACHT CLUB, MUTANT APE #5661, 2021
BORED APE YACHT CLUB, BORED APE #5981, 2021
MUTANT APE YACHT CLUB, MUTANT APE #4245, 2021

Are there such things as affordable NFTs? 

You can buy editions of NFTs, which is like buying a limited edition run of a print. For entry level collectors, these can go from anything as low as $50 up to a few hundred or a few thousand in some very rare cases. We have some of these at the show which are starting with a reserve of 1 Ethereum, which is around $3,000.

Portrait of an Era, NFT Exhibition, 23 September – 7 October, www.thehouseoffineart.com


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