Artists Jump Into NFTs, Seeing a Digital Bonanza


An NFT frenzy is raging and artists want in. From museum darlings to digital upstarts, artists across the marketplace say nonfungible tokens could be a game-changer, roiling gallery loyalties and reshaping what creators can demand financially and how they work.

NFTs are tokens that amount to digital certificates of authenticity and allow images that exist only on screens to be traded and tracked.

Top-tier artists like Damien Hirst and John Gerrard already are converting some of their works into NFTs. Now, Urs Fischer is diving in. The 47-year-old Swiss-born artist will offer his first NFT, “Chaos #1 Human,” on Fair Warning, an auction app, on April 11. The animated work depicts a 3D scan of a brown egg and a cigarette lighter slowly colliding and moving through each other. It is part of a new series exploring cultural artifacts through hundreds of NFT pairings of everyday objects that will be capped with one amalgamation of all 1,000 images.

The rest of the art world is still catching up to what NFTs do and how they might transform transactions. Museum trustees said they are adding cryptocurrency to their portfolios—while dealers and art advisers are trying to pinpoint which NFT artists are trendy. Auction houses, early out of the gate, are tacking on classes to teach collectors the ropes. On April 26, Christie’s education arm will hold a three-day online course titled the “Comprehensive Guide to NFTs.”

Mr. Fischer’s sculptures have sold for as much as $6.8 million and this spring, Christie’s plans to ask at least $3 million for “Things,” his silvery rhinoceros sculpture from 2017. Yet Mr. Fischer’s decision to sell “Chaos #1 Human” has raised tension with his New York gallery, Gagosian, the artist said, because the gallery hasn’t agreed to sell other of his NFTs after the Fair Warning auction.



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