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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020 1 year ago

Area art gallery sells a Picasso — with digital currency

The cryptocurrency sale is a first for the iconic artist's works.

It takes a lot of digital pennies to buy a Picasso.

But that didn’t stop Naples art entrepreneur Marlissa Gardner, founder of Emillions Art on Fifth Avenue South in Naples, from taking the cryptocurrency challenge. The global art consultant recently brokered the sale of an original Pablo Picasso, Danse du ventre devant homme impassible. The iconic artist drew it in 1971, and it’s one of a series of 156 etchings, according to a statement. (The title translates to Belly dance before impassive man, according to cryptocurrency news site Decrypt.)

The cryptocurrency sale is a first for both Gardner and of a Picasso piece. The buyer, according to the release, is Idoneus, a Swiss digital currency company for luxury assets. Idoneus used its own cryptocurrency network of IDON tokens to buy the piece, and Gardner brokered the deal on behalf of a private seller. “This is an incredible feat for a crypto currency company to acquire fine art by one of the world’s most prominent artists with their own native token,” Gardner says in the statement.  

While some of Picasso's works have sold for more than $100 million, a few pieces in the series where this etching is from have sold for between $3,000 and $5,000, according to Christie’s auction house. While Gardner declines to disclose the price IDON paid for the piece, she says this particular Picasso is worth more than 10 times that amount. 

Courtesy. Pablo Picasso drew this in 1971, and it’s one of a series of 156 etchings.

The process with Idoneus worked so well, Gardner has since joined the Idoneus team as a senior advisor, fine art. Gardner, who opened her high-end contemporary fine art gallery in Naples in 2018, says she had been thinking about utilizing cryptocurrency for more than a year. The pandemic caused her to look for other options to reach customers and she began to look into it more seriously in the spring, consulting with a British cryptocurrency expert. “I had been putting this off to the side because I didn’t know that much about it,” Gardner tells Coffee Talk.

She also sought to ensure the value of the cryptocurrency would remain the same throughout the process, and not go through wild Bitcoin-like fluctuations in the middle of the sale. “I spent a lot of time building my reputation,” she says. “I didn’t want it destroyed in a day.”

(This story was updated to reflect that the Picasso Emillions sold is worth more than previous Picassos in the same series sold at auctions.) 


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