The pandemic has been hard on museums, many of which had to close their doors to visitors for a time. According to The Art Newspaper, the Uffizi Gallery saw its number of annual visitors fall by millions from 2019 to 2020—from 4.4 million to just 1.2 million. In an effort to recoup a portion of that lost revenue, the famed art museum has decided to offer up some of its most iconic artworks for sale as NFTs. First on the list is Renaissance masterpiece, Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo, painted circa 1505.
The Uffizi embarks on this endeavor in partnership with Italian company Cinello, with which the profits from each sale will be split evenly. The private company has patented a new method of creating digital versions of famous artworks in their original dimensions, which they call DAWs. Each piece is endorsed with an NFT token and a certificate of authenticity signed by the museum’s director, Eike Schmidt. Therefore, each work is unique and theft-proof.
“In the medium term [the NFT sales] will be able to contribute to the finances of a museum, comparable to the proceeds of the restaurant business,” Schmidt tells Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “It is not a change of direction in terms of revenue, it is an additional revenue. But creating such a market is not a quick thing.”
Still, the Uffizi’s economic endeavor has started off with a bang, with the Michelangelo selling for €140,000 ($170,000 USD). The museum has already named several other major works from its collection that it intends to turn into DAWs in the coming weeks. Among those included are Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Caravaggio’s Bacchus, Raphael’s Madonna del Granduca, and Titian’s Venus of Urbino.
The Uffizi Gallery turned Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo into an NFT with Italian company Cinello, and it sold for $170,000!