About 7 months after the spectacular live restoration in front of an audience of the Rembrandt masterpiece “The Night Watch”, the Rembrandt Heritage Foundation is auctioning the digital version of the unique work of art in the form of 8,000 NFTs. The future owners will then not only be able to call part of a real Rembrandt their own, but also get exclusive access to the world’s first digital museum with the entire art collection of Rembrandt van Rijn.
With this initiative, the Rembrandt Heritage Foundation would like to commemorate the Dutch Rembrandt expert Prof. Dr. Ernst van de Wetering to preserve and make Rembrandt’s works available to future generations. The sale starts on 12 October 2022 on the Rembrandt Foundation’s own minting website.
A baroque masterpiece, available in the form of NFTs
While contemporary art is well established in the NFT market, this is not yet the case for classical artwork. The project to preserve Rembrandt’s legacy was initiated by the world-renowned Dutch Rembrandt expert Prof. Dr. Ernst van de Wetering, who succeeded in digitally processing over 300 Rembrandt paintings. The “Night Watch” depicts part of the Amsterdam militia and was created by Rembrandt in 1642 as a commissioned work for the Amsterdam Riflemen’s Guild.
But unlike the almost priceless value of the real painting, which can be admired as a permanent loan from the city in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, we will soon know the value of its equally unique digital version: From October 12, 2022, it will be in the form of 8,000 one-time digital tokens (Non Fungible Tokens, NFT) priced at 0.15 ETH. A little context: In 2009, a much smaller, much lesser-known work by Rembrandt was sold at auction in London for £20.2 million (about €22.3 million in 2009).
The Night Watch, a masterpiece in its restored version
The work, created in 1642 in the original dimensions of 5 x 3.87 m and actually entitled “Officers and other gunners in the district II of Amsterdam, under the command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch”, was abbreviated with several pieces in 1715. At that time, the painting was brought to the Amsterdam City Hall, whose doors were too small. The 1642 version has been digitized and restored to its original state thanks to historian Ernst Van de Wetering, who recreated and reinserted the parts thought to be lost forever, based on a recently found sketch by Rembrandt. The Rembrandt Heritage Foundation is now selling this restored version as NFTs.
Rembrandt’s masterpiece was divided into 8,000 sections, each 5×5 cm. Each NFT of “The Night Watch” represents a very specific part of the famous painting and tells its own individual story: a familiar figure, a part believed to be lost, a hidden story, a portrait or eyes. The individual sections are randomly assigned to the new owners, who can then use a special tool to discover “their” digital part of the image in the overall work.
What is an NFT?
An NFT (Non Fungible Token) is a unique, indivisible digital asset that, like cryptocurrencies, is based on blockchain technology. Blockchain is a modern technology for storing and transmitting information, which can be compared to a database. It is stored on the computers of its users and exchanged directly with each other, so that anyone can check the validity of the entire blockchain and confirm its integrity at any time. The NFT is counterfeit-proof and traceable because it cannot be exchanged – unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Etherum (fungible token).
Become a co-founder of the first digital Rembrandt museum as an NFT owner
Not only do owners of a “Night Watch” NFT own a digital copy of the work, they also become co-founders of the MetaRembrandt Museum and have lifetime access to the digital collection, as well as other exclusive benefits. NFT can also be rented out to interested parties. In this way, they significantly support the Rembrandt Heritage Foundation in achieving one of its main founding goals: to forever preserve the collected works of the painter Rembrandt van Rijn and make them available to future generations.
A large part of the profits from the auction will be invested in the establishment of the MetaRembrandt Museum. Pim Slager, co-founder of the Rembrandt Heritage Foundation, explains: “Our goal is to make Rembrandt’s works accessible to everyone throughout their lives. With the opening of the MetaRembrandt Museum, it will be the only place in the world where you can see all the Dutch master’s paintings in a digital environment. I am honored and happy that we can now share Rembrandt van Rijn’s work with the whole world and thus Professor Dr. Ernst van de Wetering can put it into practice.”
The complete collection of Rembrandt’s works, digitally immortalized forever
For most of his life, art historian and Rembrandt specialist Ernst van de Wetering has tracked down and authenticated all of Rembrandt’s works. One of the most valuable contributions of the professor, who died in 2021, is that he has digitized and remastered every single work of the painter in collaboration with the Rembrandt Heritage Foundation.
How and where to buy an NFT from “Night’s Watch”?
The “Night Watch” NFTs will be registered on the Ethereum blockchain and auctioned on the Rembrandt Foundation’s Mint Page. The transaction is performed with the cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH), the issue rate per NFT is 0.15 ETH. So the actual price fluctuates with the ETH-EUR rate. An NFT would currently cost around 200 EUR. To simplify the purchase process – which normally has to be processed via a so-called crypto-wallet – it is also possible to pay directly by credit card on the fund’s imprint page as well as with IDEAL and Alipay.