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MoMA will sell $70 million in art to buy digital art and NFTs


This fall, the William S. Paley Foundation will auction off works of art worth at least $70 million to help the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York improve its digital presence and possibly buy its first non-financial assets (NFTs).

Since Paley died in 1990, his collection has been kept by the Museum of Modern Art. The Paley Foundation, which holds endowment funds for museums and educational and cultural programs, has asked Sotheby’s to sell 29 of the 81 pieces in the MoMA collection.

With the money from the sale, the museum will improve its online presence. The Wall Street Journal quotes MoMA director Glenn Lowry as saying that the museum has planned a number of ways to use the money.

MoMA could start its own streaming channel, host virtual exhibitions and video chats with artists, or work with universities and course providers to offer online courses. MoMA might also buy its first NFTs, which is a big deal for crypto fans.

Lowry said that the museum has a team that is in charge of keeping an eye on the digital art world for possible artist collaborations and purchases.

In an interview, he said this about NFTs: “We’re conscious of the fact that we lend an imprimatur when we acquire pieces. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid the domain.”

What is for sale?


MoMA has the final say on how the collection will be used, according to the agreement between the William S. Paley Foundation and MoMA. Some of the money from the autumn auction will go to other charitable causes that Paley cared about.

Many of the most famous pieces in the collection are not for sale. These include Picasso’s “Boy Leading a Horse” (1905–06) and Matisse’s “Woman with a Veil.” Still, Lowry said that two paintings by Rousseau and Renoir will be sold at auction.

Sotheby’s predicts that “Guitar on a Table” by Pablo Picasso will sell for at least $20 million in New York in November, while “Three Studies for the Portrait of Henrietta Moraes” by Francis Bacon will sell for at least $35 million in London in October.

The collection is expected to sell for between $70 and $100 million.

MoMA hasn’t bought a tokenized piece of art on the blockchain yet, but it has helped make non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In November 2017, MoMA gave the exhibition/NFT project Unsupervised by AI artist Refik Anadol the metadata for its entire collection.

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