After Pushback From the Picasso Estate, the Artist’s Great-Grandson’s NFT Sale Is… a Bit of a Flop
Buyers may be more interested in the NFTs' links to John Legend and Nas than the blue-chip master.
Last month, the worlds of art history and crypto art collided in dramatic fashion, when DJ Florian Picasso and his mother, Marina Picasso, announced plans to mint the world’s first Pablo Picasso NFTs—and the rest of the family said no way. Any such “Picasso” NFT, the artist’s estate proclaimed, would be counterfeit.
Florian, the Cubist master’s great grandson, attempted to rebrand the “Man and the Beat” drop as a sale of his own original NFT work in an effort “to clear the air.”
“As we clearly stated previously, this is a Florian Picasso NFT,” he said in a statement ahead of the drop, despite having originally promoted the digital works as Pablo Picasso’s first foray into crypto art. “We, and our team, have been working on this project for over 11 months and ‘Man and the Beat’ is the genesis collection of a long-term ambition we have.”
But the market for the digital animations, which are inspired by a painted face on a 1958 ceramic bowl in Marina’s personal collection, has proved lukewarm: nearly a week after the sale began, there are still 900 of a possible 1,000 NFTs available.
The first part of Florian and Marina’s drop, featuring five NFTs offered in a editions of 200 each, was released on February 1. That portion of the sale is taking place on a dedicated website hosted by Origin Protocol, a decentralized marketplace.
The “Visage de Couleur” collection, as it has been titled, is essentially a single animation of a face against a background in five different colors, titled Visage Rouge, Visage Orange, Visage Rose, Visage Vert, and Visage Bleu. But only Bleu has sold more than 20 editions so far, with 32 buyers. The least popular has been Orange, with only 14 sold. Each edition is priced at 2.0 Ether (approximately $6,200).
The other two parts of the sale—of the NFTs Visage de Demain and Visage de Lumière, featuring two additional colors of the same design—took place on Nifty Gateway on February 3 with somewhat more success. Visage de Demain is a one-of-one NFT, while Visage de Lumière has 10 editions, sold in a ranked auction over 24 hours. A portion of proceeds were donated to the charity Nurse Heroes and the climate-focused nongovernmental organization Carbon180.
The 10 winning bidders paid between $4,000 and $5,655 each for Visage de Lumière, while Visage de Demain went for $41,500. The winning bidder for the one-of-one, PVdegen, has a collection of 68 NFTs, including works by recently buzzy names such as Pak, Fewocious, Sophia the Robot, Fvckrender, and Mr. Doodle.
Winning bidders on Nifty Gateway—which offered a pre-sale disclaimer the NFTs were “not related to Pablo Picasso, his name, and his work”—are invited to a March event in Cannes, France, at Villa La Californie, where Picasso lived from 1955 to 1961.
“Florian Picasso and some very special guests artists will turn the villa into a moving piece of art for the evening,” according to a press release. “This is the first of a series of exclusive events for holders throughout 2022.”
Buyers might well expect those events to involve the music stars John Legend and Nas, who teamed up with Florian on a new single, “Tomorrow,” inspired by the NFT drop.
Though the project has shed all claims of affiliation with Picasso, the song still includes a line from Nas in which he raps: “Pablo Picasso, art and Nasir/John Legend, y’all take a deep breath/And inhale what this is givin’.”
While sales so far have proved uninspiring, there might still be one reason to invest in a Florian Picasso NFT. Marina and Florian had originally wanted to sell the Picasso bowl on which the NFT collection is based at Sotheby’s New York. When that plan fell through, Florian told Artnet News that he would figure out another way to hold that auction. Now, it seems that they will just give it away.
“One lucky buyer of the 1,000 pieces from ‘Visage de Couleur,'” the press release claimed, “will be receiving a physical ceramic from Marina Picasso’s private collection.”
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