When you think of forgeries, the first thing that likely comes to mind is counterfeit money or forged signatures. However, since art began to have value, forgeries have been a major issue for the community.
In fact, forgeries are one of the key issues that non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, address. These digital artworks are impossible to forge thanks to the validation of ownership the blockchain provides.
So, it may come as a surprise that one of the world’s most infamous art forgers has jumped into the unforgeable world of NFTs.
Wolfgang Beltracchi Enters the NFT World
Wolfgang Beltracchi is arguably one of the most talented artists that has ever lived. The only problem, he hasn’t made much money off of his own art. Instead, Beltracchi made a career out of forging some of the most priceless works of art known to man and selling them as originals.
The career proved to be a lucrative one too. From 1980 to 2011, Beltracchi conned the art industry out of around €35 million until he was sentenced to six years in jail in 2011 by German authorities. After serving just over three years, Beltracchi was released in early 2015.
Unfortunately for his wife Helene Beltracchi, she was caught in the mix and sentenced as an accomplice to the con man and was sentenced to four years in jail.
For Beltracchi, the guilty verdict was a career ender. Since his arrest, museums, gallaries, and auction houses have refused to exhibit and sell the 70-year old’s art. Nonetheless, Beltracchi aims at setting a new life for himself and his wife, one in which his art will bear his name.
To do so, the famed forger decided to enter the unforgeable world of NFTs.
Beltracchi’s New Project
For his entrance into the NFT space, Beltracchi set up a new project known as “The Greats,” which is a collection of 4,608 NFTs hosted on the Ethereum blockchain. Consistent with his history, many of the artworks are recreations of famous works like Salvator Mundi, the world’s most expensive painting that sold at Christie’s 2017 auction for $450 million to Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince.
As part of the collection, Beltracchi re-created Salvator Mundi based on seven different eras in art history including the High Renaissance, Post-Impressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, Pop Art, Factory Art, and an era Beltracchi coined himself as the Beltracchi era.
Seeing the NFT industry as a way to bring his art back to life and break from traditional market mechanisms, Beltracchi had the following to offer:
The NFT market offers artists a platform to market themselves independently and makes them independent from traditional art market mechanisms.
The Bottom Line
While Beltracchi is known as an infamous forger, it takes a great deal of talent to fool art experts into believing that a forgery is the real Mckoy. Now, that talent is finding its way to the NFT community, giving collectors the ability to own art from one of the most talented minds in history and giving that talented mind a venue to do some good with his talents in the golden years of his life.
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