How the Chinese art market embraced NFTs

Despite China’s readiness for new technology, which encompasses the ubiquitous use of QR code, mobile payment, and live streaming, cryptocurrencies remain a gray area in the Chinese regulatory environment. In 2017, China ruled crypto-based fundraising processes involving initial coin offerings (or ICOs) illegal, and crypto-related companies have been operating on tiptoes ever since.

But in the first few months of 2021, the country has taken bullish strides in the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, and appears less concerned about their perceived threats to the central bank. In March, blockchain was mentioned in a draft China’s national five-year plan, the South China Morning Post reported– the first time the technology appeared in an official document. And then in mid-April, shortly after China launched the digital yuan, the National Development and Reform Commission said during a press briefing that blockchain would be used to manage the flow of information with other emerging technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. “China will find its own way for NFT to develop, and policies and regulations will follow,” he said.

Described as the world’s first major NFT exhibit, “Virtual Niche: Have you ever seen memes in the mirror?” was organized by BCA and hosted by the UCCA Beijing lab from March 26 to April 4, and the JinArt Institute in Shanghai from April 9 to 11. The exhibition featured works by Beeple, Pak and others, and attracted more than 10,000 visitors in total, according to He.

Kang Song, who oversees exhibitions at the JinArt Institute, said “Virtual Niche” was more popular than his usual exhibitions (most of which focus on traditional Chinese art). “There were around 2,000 visitors and a lot of them were very excited,” he said. “It was a [non-selling] exhibition, but we received a lot of requests for prices.

On the collectors’ side, crypto professionals in Asia are jumping on the NFT bandwagon. BCA founder Bohan Sun graduated from the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts, a leading art school, and was one of the earliest crypto investors in China. Sundaresan, who won the historic Beeple auction, is the founder of the crypto-based fund Metapurse.
For Sun, the sub-bidder Beeple and declared founder of the blockchain platform Tron, NFTs are a new way to generate buzz. After founding his own NFT investment fund, Just NFT, at the end of March, he won a collection of Pak works at Sotheby’s first NFT auction. The fund only acquires works of art that are priced at or above $ 1 million, and has purchased works by top notch artists, including and, in addition to NFT artists, according to a declaration from Tron.
“Asian buyers and collectors are ahead of the market, and they are very open and receptive to new artistic mediums,” said Ho of Christie’s. “There is a lot of talk about NFTs going on in the region, which extends beyond art to other areas including music and watches. In mid-April, the famous Hong Kong photographer, spear First NFT artistic collaboration in Asia with singer Eric Chou for the latter’s music video.
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