Will Cryptocurrencies Be the Art Market’s Next Big Thing?

But when buying into the world of cryptocurrencies, it can be difficult to determine what is real.

Consider this Twitter post from Mr. Prince on Jan. 6:

In fact, Distributed Gallery had no connection with the American artist. This virtual dealership and its “Ready Made Token” are instead a playful experiment devised by Olivier Sarrouy, a philosophy and sociology lecturer at the University Rennes 2 in France, along with three friends.

Photo

Richard Prince’s “Ripple” paintings share a name with a high-rising cryptocurrency.

Credit
David Regen/Gladstone Gallery

“We were trying to explore how a cryptocurrency could relate to scarcity in the art market,” Mr. Sarrouy, 32, said in a telephone interview. “It reinterpreted Marcel Duchamp’s gesture of the ready-made in a radical way.”

But why Richard Prince?

“To make a ready-made we needed a signature, but we were no one in the art world,” Mr. Sarrouy said, adding that he and his friends had chosen Richard Prince “because he is the king of appropriation art.”

“Our artwork has been created by our own Richard Prince,” he said. “And then there is the famous Richard Prince.”

The appropriation of this name was certainly mischievous, given that the “famous” Richard Prince continues to be involved in a lawsuit concerning his appropriation of an Instagram-sourced photograph for a 2014 exhibition. Adding further confusion, Mr. Prince’s most recent show of paintings at the Gladstone Gallery was titled “Ripple,” which also happens to the name of a high-rising cryptocurrency.

Mr. Prince declined to comment for this column.

“The project is interesting,” said Judy Mam, an organizer of the Rare Digital Art Festival, referring to the Distributed Gallery’s Duchampian token. “But we’re talking about people who are putting up money,” she added. “That’s when the theoretical aspect of the project comes crashing down.” It no longer features in the festival program.

As of Wednesday, Distributed Gallery’s auction had attracted four participants, who bid in Ether up to a value of about $2,600. Three bidders who…

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