Seoul’s Artbloc to Offer High-End Art Using Blockchain-Based Fractional Ownership

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A Korean start-up will be fractionally selling two works by David Hockney in September.

Gangnam, Seoul-based Artbloc this month acquired Focus Moving, 2018 and Pictured Gathering with Mirror, 2018. It will be issuing 8,500 tokens for the former and 5,000 for the latter and offering the tokens during an event to be held at Lounge K in Gangnam on September 19.

Each token will be priced at 9,900 won ($8.18).

The tokens will be recorded utilizing ethereum and will be tradeable privately or via a platform for exchange to be set up in Hong Kong early next year. They will not be listed on crypto exchanges as each work will have its own token.

Jun Kim, CEO of Artbloc, says that the idea is to bring high-end works to regular investors and customers. With galleries and auction houses serving the rich and with the middle class only able to buy cheaper works, he saw an opening.

“Artbloc will sell high-end art to the public,” Kim said.

He keyed in on Hockney because the artist is extremely popular in South Korea. An exhibition was held from March through August this year at the Seoul Museum of Art. It was a popular show and well covered in the local press, so much so that Hockney is now almost a household name. His Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold for $90 million in 2018, the most ever for a painting by a living artist and 5,000 times the original price.

“It was so hot,” says Kim of the exhibition in Seoul. “We can sell factional ownership to normal people.”

Kim would not disclose the price he paid for the first two paintings he acquired, but he did say that he was in the market for more works. He is especially interested in paintings by Roy Lichtenstein.

“This is just the pilot,” he says. “It’s just the first step.”

Kim has incorporated an entity in Hong Kong—Artbloc Marketplace—but he says that the works themselves will be kept and displayed by galleries in Seoul so that the public and the fractional owners can view them. He mentioned Platform L in Gangnam and ART 247 in Itaewon as possible locations for display.

Hockney image via Christie’s.