Will NFTs Kill Traditional Art? Famed Collector Cozomo de’ Medici Makes The Case

Digital magazine and gallery Artnet gave Cozomo de’ Medici the keys to the castle. The notorious NFT collector took over their very popular Twitter account to raise hell. Cozomo de’ Medici’s thesis is that “the internet killed the yellow pages. Netflix killed Blockbuster,” and NFTs will replace traditional art. A bold prediction, we know, but let’s give the pseudonymous collector the benefit of the doubt and explore his thread.

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The story starts with Artnet NFT 30. A list of the 30 most influential people in the NFT world. Of course, Cozomo de’ Medici was one of them. As a publicity stunt, Artnet gave Cozomo control of their Twitter. “And starting now, I will be taking over the ARTNET Twitter! I warned them I may be controversial ;),” de’ Medici said. And then, “Ok frens, so I dropped a bit of a bomb over on the Artnet twitter account. They had NO idea I was going to do this!”

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Besides NFT recommendations and commentary, Cozomo de’ Medici made a name for himself on Twitter by making outrageous statements. One of them is, “Crypto billionaires will flip traditional billionaires. NFTs will flip traditional art.” Let’s explore that idea.

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NFTs Will Kill Traditional Art, According To Cozomo de’ Medici

The notorious NFT collector begins by comparing the NFT revolution to the advent of Reality TV. “For almost 100 years, the studios decided which actors would be lucky or talented enough to become stars. But then in the 2000’s, everything changed. The cameras turned from focusing on actors, to every day people. With Reality TV, soon it wasn’t a trained actor who was getting famous, but your classmate, co-worker, or next door neighbor. ”

Ok, so far so good.

Then, Cozomo turns to art. For centuries, “kings, queens, and noble folk decided which art was relevant.“ Then, the tide shifted, “in the Victorian era of the 1800s, galleries, museums, and collectors began to move markets.” The problem here was that the public had zero access to these artists. By the time they learned “about Warhol or Basqiat, their work has become expensive, the best pieces gobbled up by known collectors and market makers.”

Enter NFTs. “No museums. No galleries, other than the marketplaces, and the galleries made by collectors themselves.” A heap of now well-known artists came out of this change of paradigm. But that’s not all, “any artist, from any where in the world, with no invitation, can mint a drop.” Also, the power shifted to the consumer. “YOU can decide which artists will define this generation.“

You’re In Control Of The New Art Elite

Then, Cozomo de’ Medici shouts out two artists. Who, of course, are part of Artnet NFT 30 as well.

Photographer Justin Aversano and Digital artist Xcopy. Who, of course, are a big part of Cozomo de’ Medici’s collection.

To finish, de’ Medici goes all in. “We are the market makers now. We create our own museums. We decide which art defines this generation. We are the digital renaissance.”

The reactions have been mixed. Some people don’t buy it, some people think Cozomo de’ Medici is a genius. In what camp are you? Are you convinced or nah? Is Cozomo exaggerating for effect? Or does he or she really believe that? Is Cozomo ahead of his or her time or clinically insane? And, more importantly…

Who’s Cozomo de’ Medici?

No, he’s not Snoop Dogg. That was a publicity stunt that worked too well and even journalists still believe.

To answer the title’s question, let’s quote the publication that started this whole mess. In Artnet NFT 30, they introduce him as follows:

“Ever since the mysterious collector behind this Twitter handle emerged on the scene in August, they’ve captivated the cryptorati with a combination of gnomic utterances and sage NFT investment advice, all packaged under a playful identity claiming a parallel between the famous patronage of Renaissance Florence’s Medici family (albeit with a tweaked spelling seemingly borrowed from Seinfeld’s Kramer) and Cozomo’s own pursuits in the digital art world today.”

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And about his collection, a huge part of this story, Artnet says:

“With astonishing speed, Cozomo acquired a collection of Art Blocks and CryptoPunks alongside NFTs by Justin Aversano, Tom Sachs, and a host of other artists. He now owns hundreds of artworks, including coveted examples that the crypto community calls “holy grails,” that are together valued in the tens of millions of dollars— including what he calls a “grail of grails,” XCOPY’s Right-click and Save As guy,”

The estimation is that his whole collection is worth $17M approximately. Take that for what it’s worth.

Featured Image from Cozomo de’ Medici's Twitter page | Charts by TradingView


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NFT Project Spotlight: Quantum, the NFT Photography Launchpad

Key Takeaways

  • Quantum is an art photography launchpad that helps artists mint their work as NFTs on Ethereum.
  • The platform focuses on accessibility, affordability, and creating a vibrant community around its curated collections.
  • Minting their work as NFTs is allowing artists to reach and engage with a wider audience than ever before.

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Quantum is showcasing top talent from the art photography world through NFTs on Ethereum. While the platform is still in its infancy, demand for Quantum-curated collections is growing fast. 

What Is Quantum? 

Quantum is an art photography launchpad that’s helping artists unlock value in their work through NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. The platform focuses on accessibility and affordability, fostering community engagement around its curated collections and the NFT photography world as a whole. 

Quantum’s story dates back to January 2021 with artist and curator Justin Aversano. After encountering difficulties getting his photography displayed in traditional art galleries, Aversano started looking into other ways to promote his work. While browsing for alternative methods of promotion online he came into contact with a pseudonymous crypto native and NFT collector going by the name gmoney, who encouraged Aversano to mint his photography as NFTs on Ethereum. 

With help from gmoney and other members of the NFT community, Aversano made his blockchain debut with a collection of 100 twin portraits called “Twin Flames.” 

Twin Flames #83. Bahareh & Farzaneh Safarani (Source: OpenSea)

Although NFTs were relatively unknown at the time, all 100 Twin Flames sold out, netting Aversano around $50,000. However, it wasn’t until later in the year when NFTs exploded into the mainstream that “Twin Flames” really took off. A robust secondary market emerged for Aversano’s work, fueled in part by sales at prestigious auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The lowest-priced “Twin Flames” NFTs on OpenSea will set buyers back over $750,000 today. 

The success of “Twin Flames” showed proof of concept. Collectors were willing to pay for art photography NFTs, and the new medium allowed further reach than ever before, while also avoiding the gatekeeping associated with the traditional art world. “Twin Flames” started to take off at the height of what became known as “NFT summer,” a period of heightened market activity and frenzy for NFTs. After seeing the collection grow in popularity, Aversano and his three co-founders Kris Graves, Alexx Shadow, and Jonas Lamis launched Quantum in August to help pass on their knowledge and help other artists unlock the value in their work through NFTs.

How Quantum Works

In some senses, Quantum is not all that different to the generative art platform Art Blocks. Artists can apply to have their photography featured as a curated collection on the site. Pieces are minted as non-fungible tokens and bought and sold using ETH, Ethereum’s native token. 

When Crypto Briefing caught up with Jonas Lamis to hear about how the platform got started, he explained that every collection featured on the platform goes through a strict selection process. “We’re looking for sets that tell stories,” he said. Quantum aims to represent a diverse range of artists giving equal representation to women and people of color, who sometimes struggle to get their work featured in traditional galleries. Kris Graves heads curation at Quantum, drawing from his 20 years of experience curating photobooks and museum exhibitions. 

Once an artist has been chosen, the next step is figuring out the best way to launch their collection. Quantum has experimented with three different distribution models to find the most successful way to launch collections. 

For Amy Elkin’s “Anxious Pleasures,” the platform used a mint pass system, where passes were free to claim in a fair launch distribution prior to the collection’s release. Joey L’s “Ethiopia” launched through a Dutch auction format with the price to mint starting at 3 ETH and decreasing with every Ethereum block until all pieces were sold. A first-come-first-served model has also been trialled, but scrapped due to problems with botting and gas wars.

Ethiopia #2 – Fentale receives Kereyu hairstyle from Umer (Source: Quantum)

Quantum launches aim to make its drops accessible to as many collectors as possible. “Justin advocates [for] not overpricing art,” says Lamis. “He believes that making collections accessible is key to building a strong community around them.” As Quantum and its curated collections gain popularity, demand will inevitably rise, but the platform is committed to making its featured art accessible. So far, the majority of pieces on Quantum have minted for less than one ETH (one ETH trades at roughly $4,350 today).

As the art is accessible, a strong community has formed around Quantum and each of its curated collections. This community engagement is most apparent in Quantum’s “Rizzo Genesis Collection” by the late Alberto Rizzo. Apart from being the most traded collection on the secondary market, community curation has emerged surrounding attributes in the set. While no official rarity distribution exists, rarity has emerged organically as traits in certain pieces command higher market prices than others. 

Additionally, when minting through Quantum, buyers do not know exactly which piece from a collection they will receive until after the mint. This ensures that drops are fair and helps generate a buzz around highly-anticipated collections containing standout pieces. 

Collectors and fans can learn about and discuss collections on Quantum’s Discord server, where each collection has its own dedicated channel. On Discord, community members can engage with a collection’s artist, find out more about individual pieces, and organize trades with other collectors. 

Quantum’s Philanthropy 

Ethereum is currently crypto’s biggest NFT hub. The most sought-after NFTs are generally minted on Ethereum, and OpenSea, the leading NFT marketplace built on Ethereum, has handled over $10 billion worth of sales to date. However, while Ethereum is still a Proof-of-Work blockchain, its environmental impact is high. Currently, the Ethereum network uses around 89 terawatt hours per year to process transactions, about as much energy as Belgium. Many NFT skeptics have raised concerns surrounding Ethereum’s energy usage as the space has entered mainstream consciousness. 

Quantum is taking a pragmatic approach to the environmental concerns, donating 2.5% of the profits from every drop to carbon reduction initiatives. Additionally, every curated artist on Quantum agrees to donate a further 2.5% of their profits to a charity of their choice. Charities scheduled to receive donations so far include St Jude’s Hospital and WaterAid UK. 

For Quantum, using Ethereum to mint art NFTs is a means to an end, where the primary goal is to give artists exposure and a way to effectively monetize their work. “What we’re doing isn’t tied to any particular blockchain,” Lamis says, hinting that Quantum may be open to exploring chains other than Ethereum in the future. 

Plans for the Future

Going forward, Quantum is hoping to further increase community engagement through several initiatives. Quantum plans to introduce community curation, where holders of Quantum NFTs will get the chance to help decide which collections are featured on the platform next. Additionally, Quantum wants to break its collections into seasons, adding an element of finality to each period of curated drops. The first season of drops is planned to run until March 2022. 

For now, Quantum plans to stick to a schedule of one curated collection drop per week. Competition for a place in Quantum’s curated roster is highLamis says there is big demand from artists given that NFTs and blockchain technology are starting to disrupt the traditional art world.

Next, the platform will feature Julie Blackmon’s “Homegrown” as its special Black Friday drop, a 61-piece collection that Blackmon describes as “modern day images that would find their way onto the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, were it still published.” The Black Friday drop will mint for a fixed price of 0.75 ETH, and will try out a new whitelist drop model. Details on how to qualify for the whitelist will be announced prior to the sale. 

Quantum highlights the disruptive power of NFTs and the way blockchain technology has created real-world value. Artists can now reach and engage with a wider audience than ever before, and art enthusiasts have an opportunity to collect pieces without being priced out by middlemen or galleries. 

While NFTs are in vogue right now, there’s always the possibility of a market crash, in part because of their close price correlation with the cryptocurrency market. Whether the platform will be able to rival the traditional art world in the years to come is also not yet clear. But for now, Quantum appears to be laying the foundations for an enduring NFT photography market, providing a fresh new platform where artists can reach a wider audience of passionate collectors.

Disclosure: At the time of writing this feature, the author owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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