With something like the Cryptokitty, I think you have this new kind of crypto-wealthy community, people have loads of crypto-wealth, so buying something like a Cryptokitty can earn you a kind of bragging right. In a way you’re buying into your own reputation, you’re buying the right to brag that you own this thing. And then of course people buy them to invest in speculation, as well.
... it seems like, more and more, you’re seeing a shift from art as sort of a commodity, or art as a craft item, toward art as a derivative, which is a kind of financial instrument, and where what’s most significant, actually, is the information or the hype that circulates around it. To me art on the blockchain is a really good example of this. Maybe since the financial crash, we’ve seen the rise of art as an asset class, and the rise of funds that specifically buy art, to hedge against volatility in other markets, and of people using art as security on loans, and generally investing in the idea that ownership of art might make you money in various different ways in the future.
There was a famous book published at that time by a critic named Lucy Lippard, called The Dematerialization of the Art Object. It presents this idea that art would no longer have a physical form or be a physical thing, but would just become a concept, like conceptual art. And they saw this as being a way as well of defining the relationship between art and the market, because you know, if there wasn’t a thing or a commodity, the market should fall. But what we’ve seen is that actually this de-commodification of art doesn’t actually really perturb or disturb the market the way you would expect it to.
If you buy a really expensive work of art at auction, and you ship it to your home country, you’re going to pay a lot of taxes. So by shipping to a free port, you don’t have to pay tax associated with the work to move it from one place to the other. The idea was that things were only supposed to be stored there temporarily, but people exploit that loophole to store high-net-worth assets, like cars, and art, and fine wine, and gold bullion as well. And they get stored there indefinitely.
There’s some really depressing statistics about how much art is stored in some of these free ports. The Geneva free port, I think, is supposed to have more contemporary art than MoMA. Millions and millions of dollars worth of art.
There's a bit later on where she says art now has to sort of reject the market in order to be valued by it.
A Cryptocurrency Expert Introduces Me To The Dystopian Nightmare Of Art As A Financial Instrument | DefectorThe real losers in all this are anyone who plans on living on the planet Earth 20 years from now, baking in the dust as the 19 people who control all human wealth ride a spaceship to their tricked-out orgy pad on Mars.defector.com