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  • 1.  Tokenizing fine art and valuables

    Posted 05-22-2023 04:37 PM

    Hello everyone.  Any feedback on this topic would be greatly appreciated.  What do you think of a museum having a program to further its mission that enabled it to rent out a piece of art or valuable through digital tokens, ie: NFTs, whereby the NFT purchaser would be making a donation to the museum for exclusive rights for a pre-determined time to that piece in exchange for a tax deduction.  By exclusive rights, that could include rights to the image (if owned by the museum), exclusive parties with the art piece/s, rights to use the image as part of an AI algorithm or digital artwork project, etc.  The responsibility of the art object is maintained by the museum.  What challenges would a museum face with such a model?  Since there is no deaccessioning occurring, the funds from this subscription service could be used for any means that the museum sees fit. Thank you.

    Orit Manham
    Insurance Advisor
    Boulder CO

  • 2.  RE: Tokenizing fine art and valuables

    Posted 05-23-2023 06:39 AM
    There would be a problem with the deductibility of the donation, for the donor receives something of value in exchange for the "gift". It also may be difficult to limit subsequent use of the image, including derivative works.

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  • 3.  RE: Tokenizing fine art and valuables

    Posted 05-23-2023 09:47 AM
    The idea of donating anything is that the donor receives nothing in return from the donee (the museum). I don’t think this qualifies as a tax deduction but you need to ask either the IRS or a tax attorney.

    That’s not to say you can’t do what you’re proposing, just that it can’t be a tax deductible issue. The idea isn’t new to the museum world, but it does come with some challenges such as staff time. Someone has to manage it and does the revenue cover those costs PLUS provide the income to do whatever you intend to do with the money?

    Lana Newhart-Kellen
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  • 4.  RE: Tokenizing fine art and valuables

    Posted 05-24-2023 09:40 AM

    With the environmental impact of NFT's, the public perception will be "museums are elitist, nothing has changed".  This kind of sentiment is something most museums have been trying to get away from.

    Lina Stephens
    Collections Manager
    Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
    Detroit MI

  • 5.  RE: Tokenizing fine art and valuables

    Posted 05-23-2023 10:42 AM

    Before making that decision, I urge you to read up on the severe environmental impact of NFT's.


    Lindsey Knight

    Windgate Museum Education Curator
    [pronouns: she/her/]

    1600 Washington Avenue | Conway, AR 72032


    phone 501.328.2385



  • 6.  RE: Tokenizing fine art and valuables

    Posted 05-24-2023 09:29 AM

    This is simply licensing rights to the work. None of this requires an NFT, just a standard contract. All of the rights you list are commonly licensed (except AI training which is new). You'll need a marketing team to "sell" the rights and lawyers to negotiate the contracts. The devil is in the details. One is ownership, as you mentioned. Ownership of art, especially by museums, is a complex issue. "Exclusivity" is also problematic. It's not an "exclusive" right if the museum retains that right. For instance, to transfer exclusive rights to the digital image, you must stop using the digital image, and you must have exclusive rights yourself, which is unlikely for a work of art you did not create. And none of this addresses the ethics of any given museum licensing rights to the art they hold. 

    Tod Hopkins
    Hoptod LLC