Banned Convicted Art Forger Launches NFT Collection; Will It Succeed?

October 12, 2021, 11:00 AM AEST - 6 days ago

Convicted German art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi has entered the NFT world, launching his very own digital NFT museum. Beltracchi is recreating the world’s most expensive painting, da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, in the form of 4,606 NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain.

Recreating “The Greats”

In a new project, aptly named “The Greats”, Beltracchi will be recreating – not forging – one of the most controversial paintings in art history.

Painted in whole or in part by Leonardo da Vinci between 1499-1510, Salvator Mundi was in 2017 sold at a Christie’s auction to a proxy for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. It had been mistaken for a copy for the previous 500 years until the truth was finally revealed in 2011.

Salvator Mundi, believed to have been painted by da Vinci between 1499-1510.

According to The Greats’ website, the project will feature seven different takes on Salvator Mundi, based on the seven different eras of art history. Beltracchi is said to have redesigned the famous painting in 4,608 copies in his style.

The infamous forger conned the art world out of approximately 35 million euros between 1980 and 2011 before he was finally arrested by German authorities and sentenced to six years in prison, of which he served only three.

Since his incarceration, Beltracchi has been barred from exhibiting and selling his art by art museums, auction houses and galleries, hence his entry into the NFT market:

The NFT market offers artists a platform to market themselves independently and makes them independent from traditional art market mechanisms.

Wolfgang Beltracchi

Not all of the NFTs are currently exhibited on the website, with a spokesperson indicating they would only be revealed when the sale starts later this month.

In order to ensure the NFTs are not exploited, The Greats will be making a “hidden sale”. Chainlink’s Verifiable Random Function (VRF) will prevent buyers knowing which NFT they are minting.

Will Beltracchi Be Able to Pull It Off?

Confidence in NFT artists is not all that high of late, and many collectors are no doubt wondering if investing in the work of a convicted criminal is their best bet. Just last week, Crypto News Australia reported on the ‘Evolved Apes’ rug-pull in which investors lost a cool US$2.7 million.

Investors in Iconic Sol, an NFT project on the Solana blockchain, were also left in the lurch after the company failed to deliver several pieces of art and made off with US$500,000.

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