There’s a been a great deal of controversy within the art trading community about the fate of smaller galleries. Much of the conversation takes on the tone of mis-directed arguments about income inequality. Others talk about structural changes to art’s peculiar retail environment (gallery going has declined.) A select few go to conferences and talk about innovation without offering much in the way of practical guidance.
Enid Tsui, in her round up of blockchain and art-related developments in art, finally has an example of a medium-sized gallery that is trying something different, an Initial Coin Offering.
Traditional art galleries are also setting up blockchain-enabled platforms as a way to raise capital. Whitestone Gallery, which moved its headquarters from Tokyo to Hong Kong in 2015, wants to raise 5 billion yen (US$46 million) through an initial coin offering (ICO) to fund its expansion.
In January, the 50-year-old gallery invited members of the public to buy its cryptocurrency, called WHS and initially priced at 1,000 yen a unit. The gallery has various plans for the funds raised: building an art trading and verification platform using cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, and opening more bricks-and-mortar galleries in New York and London to promote Japanese artists abroad. Early investors have been promised dividends paid in WHS.
Chief executive Koei Shiraishi says the gallery has not yet achieved its fundraising target, and plans for public trading of WHS on cryptocurrency exchanges have been delayed because Asian governments have begun to enact laws to regulate the market.
Buying art with bitcoin, authenticating it with blockchain – art world cottons on to cryptocurrencies (South China Morning Post)