[UDC 2021] NFTs and the metaverse can make fine art go mainstream
Seoul Auction Blue CEO discusses NFTs and art accessibility at UDC 2021
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임준혁 2021년 9월1일 17:43
이정봉 서울옥션블루 대표. 출처=두나무 제공
Seoul Auction Blue CEO Lee Jung-bong. Source=Provided by Dunamu

Lee Jung-bong, CEO of Seoul Auction Blue, thinks that NFTs and the metaverse will make it easier for the average person to own rare and collectible art.

Seoul Auction Blue became the first Korean firm to mediate NFT art sales. To discover new talent, it also held a contest for NFT artists from June to August of this year.

Lee outlined his views on the NFT economy during his speech for UDC 2021, a conference of blockchain developers and industry insiders hosted by the South Korean exchange Upbit.

UDC 2021 launched on Sept. 1 and will be held until Sept. 2. Viewers can watch it on UDC 2021's YouTube livestream.

"Purchasing and owning a work of art in the real world is not easy," Lee said.

He detailed the process of researching artists, perusing galleries and exhibitions, and gauging prices for art in the real world. But this is beyond the scope of the average collector, which is why people pay curators and auction houses like Sotheby's to do the grunt work.

"However, NFTs and the metaverse get rid of physical barriers and allow anyone to purchase and own art with ease in the digital world. This is truly a historic moment,” Lee said. 

Lee explained that when famous artists or auction houses like Sotheby's sell their pieces, they discriminate among buyers to see who's a good fit. In the art world, the owner's reputation and name status is just as important as the artist when determining the price of a piece.

This discrimination forms another entry barrier to the average art enthusiast, one that goes beyond money.

To Lee, NFTs and the metaverse are key tools for breaking through this barrier. In short, NFTs can make fine art collections, something once limited to elite social circles, go mainstream.

To illustrate how this could happen, Lee cited an event co-hosted by Seoul Auction Blue and Dunamu (the company that operates Upbit) this past Aug. 24.

The two firms collaborated with sculptor Ji Yong-ho. Ji is known for crafting elaborate sculptures using old, discarded tires.

It's difficult to describe just how elaborate and detailed his pieces are, so have a look here.

For the event, Ji had a thousand of his pieces converted into NFTs and then he gave them away to average people, or "non-art collectors." 

Ji’s work can fetch prices in the tens of thousands of dollars.

"Art that is normally reserved for people with thousands of dollars of disposable income was instantly made available to a thousand people for free," Lee said.

“As for Ji, he made a thousand new fans instantly.”

UDC 2021 articles are sponsored by Upbit.

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