Florence gallery sells Renaissance masterpieces as NFTs to recover pandemic losses | Washington Examiner

The Uffizi Galleries in Florence, Italy, began auctioning non-fungible tokens of some of its most famous artworks to recover losses from months of lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The museum already sold one NFT: A digital replica of Michelangelo’s painting Doni Tondo for $170,000 on May 14, according to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

An NFT is backed by a proprietary digital signature, which acts as a public ledger, allowing internet users to verify the asset’s authenticity and ownership.

An Italian woman reportedly purchased doni Tondo as a birthday gift for her husband, a prominent collector.


Uffizi partnered with Cinello to offer an alternative for purchasing digital copies of masterpieces. Called Digital Artwork, or DAW for short, the virtual artworks are generated in the dimensions of the actual painting and purport to be impossible to duplicate, given they are backed by an encrypted signature that labels the ownership of the NFT.

Each Digital Artwork auctioned by the museum is accompanied by an NFT token and certificate of authenticity signed by Uffizi Galleries’ director Eike Schmidt. The museum will split 50% of the proceeds with Cinello, Artnet reported.

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“For each DAW, an NFT token is created on the Blockchain. This certifies the ownership of the work,” according to Cinello’s webpage.

The blockchain serves as a digital record of transactions, and each transaction added to a blockchain is validated by multiple computers on the internet. Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, use blockchain technology to make chronological and public records of transactions.

Some museums across Italy began reopening in April after yearlong pandemic closures hurt the industry’s flow of income, which is largely generated by tourist visitations.

According to the Art Newspaper, Uffizi’s annual visitor numbers fell from 4.4 million in 2019 to 1.2 million in 2020.

The interior portions of the museum reopened to the public May 4 following the reopening of the Boboli Gardens on April 27. Uffizi recorded 2,197 visitors by the end of opening day in both the galleries and the gardens, though most visitors were locals, a spokesperson for the museum told the Art Newspaper.

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“We’re waiting for the return of the Americans. When the moment arrives, we will also be ready to welcome the European tourists,” Schmidt said.

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