Investors in Loïc Gouzer’s NFT Startup Should Read the Fine Print, Lucien Gets Its First Art Show, and More Juicy Art-World Gossip
Plus, Canada gallery is opening two new spaces and James Franco makes an appearance at NADA in New York.
Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].
AN NFT OF A DEED OF A PORTION OF A BANKSY
I wonder how many times the average American has been subtly exploited for not reading the fine print. Our data gets sold to advertisers through Instagram and Facebook, our banks charge us fees for using our own money, and Sonicare sends me unsolicited and tacitly condescending reminders to floss because I tried to get 10 percent off an electric toothbrush one time. Etc.
I’m not breaking any ground by suggesting this happens in the art world, too. Consignment terms, sales agreements, and all manner of other documents regularly use language that all but requires a law degree to decode. The new trend of fractional art ownership, wherein investors can purchase tiny portions of real-life artworks, is no exception. Or as Javier Lumbreras, the founder of investment company Artemundi, which recently tokenized a Picasso pointing into 4,000 shares for a total of $4.3 million, admitted to our very own Katya Kazakina, it’s democratization, but only to a degree.
The latest company to jump into this business fray is Particle, cofounded by former Christie’s contemporary art chief (and current advisor to Beeple) Loïc Gouzer, who is joined by boy-wonder of the crypto world, Shingo Lavine, and Hollywood-adjacent producer Philip Eytan, among others. Harold Eytan serves as chief executive.
The company acquires and then tokenizes artworks by uploading a minority of the work’s ownership rights to the Ethereum blockchain as a 100 by 100 grid. Then the company mints 10,000 NFTs, which are sold as “particles,” for $1,500 each. Think paint by numbers, but each little square is filled in by some rando with an extra $1,500 to spare. “Own, collect, and experience art masterpieces through blockchain and NFTs,” Particle’s website advertises.
The rub is that a majority of the painting—and the object itself—remains in the company’s keep, and the work is then donated to the Particle Foundation nonprofit. “The collective of Particle owners are therefore the only non-charitable owners of the paintings,” Harold Eytan told Wet Paint.
Last December, Particle bought Banksy’s Love Is In The Air for $12.9 million at auction, sold it out as NFTs, but kept 900 of the digital assets in its own piggy bank. It then sent the work on tour to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami and next plans to send it out to L.A. But the idea is never to get rid of the work, so that, presumably, investors can only ever retain their NFTs. In other words, it won’t ever be sold for a profit to be shared among investors—which makes me wonder if it’s an investment at all?
“Under the current model, the paintings will forever remain in the foundation,” Eytan said. “The goal is to never sell them, so that they are forever available to be enjoyed by the community rather than held like many other works in freeports around the world or in individual’s homes, away from the public eye.” The Particle website adds that pieces are donated to the foundation “to achieve a more elegant and ethical alternative than having to ‘burn’ the physical painting, as has been done by others in the past.”
So essentially, what Particle investors really get is just a NFT of a portion of a deed of ownership of a piece of art—and the dangling potential that maybe they’ll get like, a free ticket to see the work wherever Particle Foundation sends it on tour. As the website explains: “The Particle Foundation holds the majority of the physical rights (economic and otherwise) to the painting.”
To be fair, Particle’s website does say all of this, but as I said before, it’s not exactly in layman’s terms. “Via the Particle smart contract, Particle owners will grant a permanent, all-encompassing drag-along right with respect to the Art to the Particle Foundation, so that should the Particle Foundation determine that it must take actions related to the Art and its charitable purpose it may do so without limitation from the owners.”
If I didn’t know any better, it would all be Greek to me.
SCENE REPORT: LUCIEN’S FIRST ART SHOW
The scene last night at Lucien was certainly not for the faint of heart. To celebrate the restaurant-cum-art world supper club’s first-ever art show, seemingly everyone with a blue check on Instagram and a pair of Margiela Tabis decided to show face. Allow me to paint you a picture.
It was a beautiful spring day in the East Village, and right around 6 p.m., when I had finished writing the rest of this very column, I cracked my knuckles, packed a notebook in my purse, and sailed off into the evening. It started off slow, but I could spot them from a mile away: Chloë Sevigny, Jeanette Hayes, and the artist Aurel Schmidt, a trifecta of intimidating blonde coolness, sitting at one of the hallowed tables on 1st Avenue and 1st Street, each looking chic-er than the last.
Inside the restaurant, Schmidt’s drawings were mounted among various snapshots of celebrities and New York scenesters that have made Lucien their spot—and they fit in nicely (it’s honestly a shame they’ll be sold off).
Schmidt’s cheeky pastel drawings, called the “Sleazy Pastels,” depict her alter ego in the buff at some of her favorite restaurants and bars: Paul’s Casablanca, Hotel Amour Paris, Petit Palace, Chez Francis, and, you guessed its, Lucien. In each picture, the altar ego is in varying sexual scenarios with rats, roaches, centipedes, and other bugs.
“Skaters are always portrayed as roaches,” the artist said. “The men of Paris are always pigeons, dead-eyed.”
Honestly, the imagery is pretty similar to Madonna and Beeple‘s bizarre collaboration, but I’m having significantly more fun with Schmidt’s version of L’origin du monde.
“They remind me of being single in New York City,” Sevigny told me wistfully over her lipstick-stained glass of white. “There’s a looseness to them.”
Hayes chimed in that Schmidt’s drawings make her feel like “drawing is finally fun again. No man has ever drawn a better drawing than Aurel Schmidt.”
They were popular, too. The works were selling for $1,000 a pop, and I watched Clearing‘s founder, Olivier Babin, consider a purchase, remarking to me with a little guilt on his face: “Skateboarding isn’t a crime, you know?” Zines and editions were selling fast for $20.
Around 7:30 p.m., Sevigny split and the event became kind of a Kafka-esque dreamscape nightmare, presumably because the scenesters lost the sun around which they naturally orbit. I stepped into the restaurant to clock Ivy Getty giving her tiny dog some water from a wine glass at a table. Outside, some kid on a bike asked a person in the crowd what event was happening, and they replied plainly: “It’s not for you.” A woman in head-to-toe bubblegum pink remarked to me that she felt like she was at Fashion Week, saying, “I need to be more drunk for this.”
Martini glasses and beer bottles littered the Metrocard stations outside, and the wait to get a drink was teetering onto the hour mark. And oh, the scene. Gray and Arsun Sorrenti, Tyler Mitchell, Rita Ackermann, Paloma Esser, Eartheater, and Jan Gatewood were all there, just to name a few.
I heard rumblings of an afterparty at Piano’s just a few streets down, but I had gotten more than my fill. With my notebook filled with half-legible chicken scratch, I called that a night.
David Kordansky’s inaugural fête for its New York location was so packed that many of his VIP collectors were left waiting in a line outside for over an hour … Margot Samel, the Estonian-born, New York-based dealer will open a new gallery in Tribeca next week, beginning with a solo show of work by Kris Lemsalu … Pebble Bar teamed up with Christie’s this week to create a “Blue Marilyn” themed drink, with proceeds from each cocktail purchase going to the Ammann Foundation for healthcare and educational programs for children … Ross Bleckner has been making his own NFTs called “Cryptoflares”, and shooting videos of himself destroying the watercolor paintings they’re based on as they’re minted … Dimes Square’s beloved gallery and concept store Fortmakers is set to shut down after a two-and-a-half year run, which brings me no pleasure at all to report (who could resist their Goodnight Moon installation?) … Blum & Poe has snapped up the hotly watched L.A.-based artist Lauren Quin … Carpenters Workshop Gallery is expanding to open a space in Los Angeles… Canada is adding two new spaces, one in East Hampton, and another just across the street from their current space on Lispenard … Elizabeth Street Garden is teaming up with New York Nico to auction off artwork by homeless artists in the LES to benefit Inside Change … Leo Koenig seems to have scooped up the Sigmar Polke piece from Christie‘s for $819,000, a veritable steal…
*** Speaking of Lucien, Chloë Sevigny hosted her bachelorette party there this Saturday, and Mary Frey and Hailey Benton-Gates were spotted milling outside with its owner *** That must have been the reason why those three didn’t show up to Wet Paint’s doughnut pop-up at the delightful Orchard Street staple Wildair, because obviously thats where everyone who’s anyone was on that day *** Dua Lipa was eyeing some works by Anna Uddenberg at the Boros Collection in Berlin *** Keith McNally’s son Harry was seen with his future father-in-law, Stephen Spielberg, watching his fiancée Sasha Spielberg open for HAIM in Los Angeles, while Elle Fanning, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Maya Rudolph mingled nearby *** Brett Littman, Fairchain founders Max Kendrick and Charlie Jarvis, Radhika Jones, and Yuri Shimojo at Boston-based gallery Praise Shadows’s dinner at the always delectable Mina’s at MoMA PS1 *** Jerry Saltz, Judith Bernstein, Nicholas Party, and Bernard Picasso at the Hirshhorn Museum‘s dinner at Beauty & Essex *** David Salle and Paris Review editor Emily Stokes dining at Fort Greene hotspot Saraghina Caffé *** Collector Ezra J. Williams, stylist Logan Horne, and designer Aldo Bakker at the if-you-know-you-know burlesque club Omar’s at La Goulue *** James Franco wandering around NADA on opening day *** Ondine Viñao, Raquel Chevremont, Ludwig Nkoth and the recently betrothed New York Cultural Commissioner, Laurie Cumbo, at the Bronx Museum gala celebrating Derrrick Adams *** Korakrit Arunanondchai snapping a pic of Precious Okoyomon reaching for dollar bills in the conceptual money pit sculpture at Sculpture Center by Monsieur Zohore ***
WET PAINT IN THE WILD
This section of the column has become so beloved that we decided it should leave the nest of Wet Paint proper and live on its own.
From now on, our beloved disposable camera photo essays will run as its own standalone piece, and the latest one on offer is by Dan Oglander. I promise it will not disappoint. Here’s a preview:
WET PAINT QUESTIONNAIRE
It’s been a minute! Welcome back to the questionnaire.
A few weeks ago, I asked you lovely lot what piece of art you’d bring to a desert island. Advisor Ben Godsill went practical, and suggested Urs Fischer’s Untitled (Bread House), presumably for sustenance. Nazy Nazhand wants Katharina Fritsch‘s Mönch (Monk) from 1997–99, saying: “The starkness and precision of the black sculpture against the empty white room was the most jarring and beautiful thing I had ever seen and experienced in my life.”
Meme savant Hilde Lynn Helphenstein got loose with the question, saying: “the Berghain Nightclub (when it was in existence) with Sven Marquardt permanently bossing me around. Because that was a real piece of art work.”
My question for you this week: Who in the art world has the best tattoos? Email your response to me at [email protected].
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