It was previous midnight in Venice, Italy, and techno music was pumping by way of the cavernous Arsenale. I met Ryan Zurrer by the bar.
The Swiss entrepreneur and crypto whale was hitting the Venice Biennale celebration circuit with digital artist Mike Winkelmann (aka Beeple) and the über curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (CCB to these within the know).
I’d accomplished a double take after I‘d spotted Bakargiev and Beeple promenading through the Biennale earlier in the day. They were a rather unlikely duo: a museum director who favors the conceptual and a digital artist who was unknown to the art world until his Everydays sold for $69 million at Christie’s. It seems they’ve a standing assembly that CCB jokingly refers to as their everymonths.
“It’s a fair exchange,” the curator defined. “I teach him about art and he teaches me about technology.”
I suppressed a reflexive wince. I hadn’t actually considered Beeple as an artist exterior of his monetary entanglements with the NFT vortex. However right here he was in Venice with one of the crucial influential movers within the artwork world.
And what the hell was a tech bro like Ryan Zurrer doing in a spot like this? Past his purchase of Beeple’s hybrid NFT/sculpture Human One for an informal $29.8 million in 2021, he had few art-world bona fides.
That’s, till now. Because it seems, Zurrer had simply loaned the work to Bakargiev’s museum in Turin. “Come to Turin and judge for yourself!” CCB urged in response to my facial features.
Over the previous yr, I’ve checked in with Zurrer as he continued to evangelize NFTs to the artwork world, placing not solely his fame but additionally appreciable monetary sources on the road. Throughout that very same interval, the value of Bitcoin dropped from about $51,000 to $17,000, whereas the value of Ethereum dove from about $4,400 to $1,250. NFT buying and selling quantity is down 97 %, and a looming recession already appears to be placing cracks within the artwork market.
Can Zurrer proceed his cross-sector diplomacy by way of the stormy climate forward? And what precisely does he hope to perform, anyway?
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