Love is in the metaverse! Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ digitised as NFTs

On Valentine’s Day, Gustav Klimt’s (1862-1918) world-famous ‘The Kiss’ joined the metaverse – a network of 3D virtual worlds. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna celebrated the day of love by giving art fans the chance to own a non-fungible token (NFT) of the romantic painting.

Painted between 1907 and 1908, ‘The Kiss’ depicts a young couple locked in an intimate embrace, decorated with robes of glittering gold leaf, silver and platinum. In collaboration with the NFT investment fund company ArtèQ, the Belvedere captured high-quality digital images of the iconic painting for NFT drop.

It is about creating a personal connection to the masterpiece,” explained the Belvedere. “Becoming part of a community that will be written in the pages of the history of art and viewed as a pioneer in the metaverse.”

Klimt’s masterpiece has been digitally divided into a 100-by-100 grid of 10,000 tiles, each a unique reproduced piece of the original artwork. The randomly assigned NFT certificates show exactly which part was purchased. The NFTs can even be gifted to a loved one with a personal dedication.

One of these limited-edition pieces of the digitalised artwork could be yours for an estimated €1,850 (£1,553). The total nominal value of the NFT painting is suggested to be €18.5 million (£15.5 million). Ahead of the drop, Wolfgang Bergmann, managing director of the Belvedere, said “the very small number of shares for the world market and the fact that each piece is unique is what makes these tokens so valuable.”

But so far, the Belvedere’s “digital declaration of love” has had a relatively low up take. Experts have suggested that NFT purchasers might be deterred by the high prices, or the fact that the images are of a traditional painting rather than a digital piece of artwork.

Nevertheless, Nanne Dekking, CEO and Founder of Artory Inc., the blockchain-secured registry of artworks and collectibles, remarked that initiatives like this “allow us to rethink art patronage entirely … ultimately [this] enables the art market to reach a wider community of art lovers.”

Recently the art market has experienced a digital revolution with the explosion of NFT artwork and metaverse style displays. In 2021, The State Hermitage Museum in Russia launched the first fully virtual exhibition “Invisible Ether” on Spatial, displaying 38 NFT projects that follow the developmental story of tokenizing art.

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