The British Museum Rides the Wave of NFTs, Selling 200 Digital Pieces by Hokusai

The engravings sold by the French startup include two copies of ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa.’


WordsHenri Robert


Reproductions of original creations or associated with new pieces, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are a means of encryption that allows the buyer to ‘own’ a digital work that is protected under copyright. It can be the digital version of a painting, but also a digital creation, a GIF, a video, or even a Tweet

Held from 30 September 2021 to 30 January 2022, the exhibition Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything is composed of over 100 drawings by the master that were intended to be included in a book that was never published but was rediscovered in a collection in Paris in 2019.


Pieces that attract new collectors

Thus, the British Museum offers 100 NFTs based on digital versions of pieces presented in the exhibition, while the 100 others on offer are from the museum’s collections.

NFTs attract ‘new collectors with an average age of 32, generation 2.0, who buy art at lower prices but as a way of life, with art remaining, in the face of all that is reproducible, the last unique gesture’, Thierry Ehrmann explains on the occasion of the publication of the report released yearly by his company ArtPrice. Recently, a piece by the artist Beeple—previously unknown in the art world—sold for $69 million, making it the third most expensive work of art in the world sold at auction.

This sale was organised by the French startup, founded by Jean-Sébastien Beaucamps. The pieces are classified into different categories: ‘unique’ (only one copy), ‘ultra rare’ (two copies), ‘limited’ (1000 copies) and ‘common’ (10,000 copies). The works in the ‘common’ category are priced from $500—some are sold at fixed prices while others are auctioned. The division of the proceeds between and the British Museum has not been revealed, but buyers can pay for their purchase using traditional money or cryptocurrency.


Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything (30 September 2021 – 30 January 2022), an exhibition of pieces by Katsushika Hokusai, is held at the British Museum in London.