Today, in this new cointerview, we’re pleased to introduce you to Romain Verlomme-Fried, an auctioneer who managed to explain NFTs in a simple and amusing way during the Wallcrypt eloquence contest. Romain is a fascinating figure in the world of art and technology, and his unique background offers valuable insight into the intersection between these two fields.
- Introducing our guest Romain
- Discussion of Romain’s art and various projects
- Do you own cryptos or NFTs?
- As an auctioneer, do you think your expertise gives you an advantage in estimating the value of certain NFTs better than those without this skill? Are there any analysis tools you would recommend, similar to those you use in your daily work?
- You mentioned a few artists and your passion for cryptos and NFTs. In addition to your role as an auctioneer, can you tell us about any specific projects you’re currently involved with in the crypto field?
- Can you tell us more about Artorus?
- When it comes to collecting, are some countries more active than others, such as Dubai? Do they collect more of certain items than others?
- COIN section
- So, let’s start with the “C”. Do you have a crypto you’d like to highlight? Sure, let’s try to keep it relevant and avoid lost memes on an obscure blockchain.
- Ok, let’s go to O for “Organization”, other than the ones you’re involved in of course!
- Let’s move on to the “I” for Innovation. Do you know of a company, project, or community that you think is demonstrating innovation in blockchain, cryptos, or NFT?
- Okay, to conclude our discussion on this topic, I’m going to ask you one last question, related to the N in our acronym: NFT. Is there a specific NFT project you’d like to highlight?
- To conclude, could you sum up Artorus in just three words?
Introducing our guest Romain
Romain, could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us about your career?
Hi Gaétan and thanks for the interview.
My name is Romain Verlomme-Fried, I’m an auctioneer who entered the world of Web 3.0 in 2020. I discovered blockchain and NFT, and it completely changed my perspective on the art market. I’m fascinated by how technology can transform the way we see and appreciate art.
You know, as an auctioneer, I always wondered how to trace the provenance of the objects I sold. Before 2020, I had no idea about blockchain or NFTs. I tried to work with barcodes, but some objects aren’t suitable for that. Small objects, very large objects… So… I switched to QR code, which gives a little more information about the object on which it’s stuck. But it doesn’t fit everything. You’re not going to stick a QR code on a €10 million Picasso painting, even on the frame.
Then I met someone who told me about blockchain and NFT. He explained that I could use photogrammetry to create an NFT of each object, which would solve my traceability problem. I then started training in this constantly evolving field.
Thank you Romain for this presentation! But tell me, how come we’re doing this interview together?
Anyway, the challenge was to explain NFT to an audience without using technical jargon. Initially, I thought I was going to be a juror, but I eventually learned that I was going to be on stage, in front of 250 people.
This required a certain amount of preparation. Even though I’m usually comfortable improvising, this time it was different. I had three minutes, not a second more, to explain a complex concept in a simple way.
I chose to approach the subject in a playful way, showing how our lives are increasingly dematerialized. I talked about the value of data and how Web 3.0 allows us to regain control of our digital world.
And, guess what? I won that contest. It was a great exercise to get out of my comfort zone and face a curious audience. The competition was widely covered by the media, including Coinpri, which sponsored and partnered the event, contributing to its success.
Your media promised an exclusive interview with the winner, so here I am.
Discussion of Romain’s art and various projects
Evaluating a work of art is a complex process, rather like diagnosing a disease. We start by identifying the artist, using tools and databases. These databases, which began to be shared in the late 90s, allow us to track recent sales and prices for the artist in question.
Before the digital age, we auctioneers were like a kind of human blockchain. We kept records of all transactions, serving as a trusted third party in the art world.
Once the artist has been identified, we examine the technique used for the work. The value of a work varies according to its technique. For example, an oil on canvas is generally more valuable than a drawing.
Finally, to make an estimate, we look at the prices at which the work has been sold. For example, if the latest works by Picasso of this size and technique have sold for 10 to 20 million, so we estimate the painting between these amounts. It’s a very precise process, based on concrete data and in-depth knowledge of the art market.
You can already record sales on different marketplaces, but they don’t always communicate well with each other. It’s a bit complicated, but I’m sure that with time, this information will become more accessible.
Perhaps our auctioneer databases will one day be able to integrate sales from other platforms. I don’t know how yet, but I’m convinced we’ll get there.
Web3 and NFT are already well integrated into the art world. The term “NFT” may even disappear from our vocabulary, replaced by something new, as happened with artificial intelligence.
The exciting thing is that technology is evolving faster than regulation. Every day brings something new, which makes this field both challenging and exciting.
The debate over who is the artist of a work created by a robot – the robot, the programmer, or the robot’s owner – is complex. Under French law, the artist has economic rights, such as receiving a share of the profits from the sale of his work, and moral rights over his work. But if the artist is a robot, that raises questions.
We’re having trouble legislating NFTs, so legislate this? Artificial intelligence is neither intelligent nor artificial. Behind it, there are programmers who create software. But if an AI starts to take initiative, we’re entering the realm of science fiction.
At the moment, most artists working with AI have a well-defined process.
But, imagine a robot that manages itself, produces one work a day related to current events, and shares them on Twitter, or even sells them on NFT marketplaces all by itself. If a robot could do all this, then we’d no longer be in control. The robot would be the artist.
I don’t know if it’s desirable, but from an artistic point of view, it would be interesting to see what an AI with carte blanche could do. For now, I think it’s the programmers who have the rights over artistic production. If we were to divide the rights, it would be according to the number of people involved in creating the software.
Do you own cryptos or NFTs?
Yes, absolutely, I own cryptos and still buy them regularly.
As far as NFTs are concerned, I bought my first one on OpenSea in 2021 simply because I liked art. It’s true that the first time you visit OpenSea, it’s a bit confusing because there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of NFTs, and you don’t really know what to look for. That’s something they could improve.
I continued to buy collectible NFTs, choosing what I liked rather than what might increase in value. I am a particular fan of “phygital” works which have a physical counterpart with the NFT, like sculptures.
As an auctioneer, do you think your expertise gives you an advantage in estimating the value of certain NFTs better than those without this skill? Are there any analysis tools you would recommend, similar to those you use in your daily work?
As an auctioneer, I think my expertise gives me an advantage in assessing the value of NFTs. In art, originality and innovation are essential.
If you are considering buying NFT, here are a few tips:
- Choose one-of-a-kind pieces or limited editions: these works tend to stand out and can be worth more in the long run.
- Buy what you like: art is subjective, and if you buy a work you like, it will always be valuable to you, even if its market value fluctuates.
- Follow artists active on social networks and present at major exhibitions: these artists have greater visibility and are more likely to be recognized by major collectors and art institutions.
The most visible artists are generally more likely to be collected by big names. This is a classic pattern in the art world: buyers, collectors and exhibitors have a major influence on the price of works.
Historically, there have always been “kingmakers” who have influenced the art market. For example, the Medici in Florence or Vollard in France, who was the first to exhibit Picasso. When he first exhibited Picasso in the 1901s, Picasso’s stock skyrocketed. The artists we see today in the major exhibitions are probably the ones whose value will increase.
Finally, it’s important to follow artists who, in addition to being very likeable, continue to produce regularly and will be present on the art scene for a long time to come. These artists are more likely to develop a coherent and significant body of work, which can increase their long-term value.
You mentioned a few artists and your passion for cryptos and NFTs. In addition to your role as an auctioneer, can you tell us about any specific projects you’re currently involved with in the crypto field?
I’m involved in several exciting crypto-related projects. I founded “Token to me”, a structure that offers advice on organizing auctions, such as the one we organized with Fauve, NFT’s first physical auction in France. We are also helping to integrate Web 3 payment solutions in various sectors.
I also took part in the creation of the NFT Factory in Paris, a space dedicated to the production and exhibition of NFT. It’s a booming project that opened a few months ago.
In parallel, I’m also co-artistic director of Art Can Die, a structure based partly in Dubai which promotes hybrid artists and produces unusual physical art objects. We assist artists by providing the means to realize their artistic dreams, whether it’s obtaining a 10-ton block of marble for a sculpture or helping transform their work into an NFT. These creations are then sold, transformed into NFT, and I, as artistic director, guide the selection process based on criteria such as the artist’s track record, previous exhibitions, originality of work, price segment and much more.
Recently, I took over a company called Artorus which dematerializes gold and silver coins via the NFT system. Our goal is to make the numismatic market more accessible by allowing anyone, with no techno or numismatic knowledge, to buy, sell and own these coins without having to physically handle them. We work with partners in Monaco, Dubai, Paris, and Luxembourg to digitize these coins, which are stored in secure vaults.
We also plan to launch artistic collaborations to add a creative dimension to the process. NFT buyers can either win the physical coin by drawing lots, or receive it directly at home.
Can you tell us more about Artorus?
Artorus is an initiative I took up a few months ago, aimed to revolutionize the traditional numismatic market, which relies mainly on physical transactions of coins, often in gold or silver. These transactions can be complicated, requiring travel, appointments, and high security for coin storage.
To solve these problems, we decided to digitize the parts and transform them into NFT. We have established partnerships with major parts dealers based in Monaco, Dubai, Paris, Luxembourg and other locations. These partners, which also have mail-order problems, keep the coins in their secure vaults.
The blockchain and NFT system allow us to track coins without having to move them, giving ownership of a coin held in the seller’s vault to the NFT buyer. This solution is aimed at a new generation of buyers looking to diversify their crypto earnings, but also at those already in numismatics looking to expand their business, or simply invest in precious metals easily.
We have launched this solution on our website. NFT holders are not captive and can trade their NFT on OpenSea or any other marketplace. They can pay in crypto or fiat on the site.
In addition to this, we decided to add an artistic dimension to our work. We’ve started to launch collaborations with artists I particularly like, who also enjoy working on the physical side. The purchase of an NFT can entitle the buyer to the physical piece, either through a draw or by sending it automatically to the purchaser’s home.
Currently, Artorus is in the process of raising funds. Although numismatics is a niche field, it represents tens of billions in sales per year. We hope to boost this market, which is still largely based on paper catalogs, by providing innovative Web 3 solutions.
When it comes to collecting, are some countries more active than others, such as Dubai? Do they collect more of certain items than others?
Almost all countries produced gold coins, with a peak in the late 19th century. In France, for example, silver coins were still being produced in the 1970s. Today, with the high cost of the metal, silver coins are unthinkable.
Over the last 20 years, the value of gold has multiplied by ~6, on a fairly constant basis. This is similar to the evolution of Bitcoin because like gold, Bitcoin’s supply is not scalable. Silver, used in almost all electronic devices, is also limited in supply, so its price is likely to rise.
It’s interesting to note the parallels between cryptocurrency and precious metals. For example, the terminology used to make coins is the same as that used to create NFTs. “Minting” a coin is similar to “minting” a NFT.
The value of a coin depends on several factors, such as its rarity, its maker and the workshop that produced it. For example, the price of a Napoleon gold coin can vary considerably depending on the workshop where it was made. For the moment, we’re concentrating on coins that correlate with precious metals.
Regarding which pieces are pricier than others, it depends on their rarity, who engraved them and which workshop produced them. For example, a Napoleon gold coin can vary enormously in price depending on the workshop where it was produced. I’ve already sold American coins for 150,000 euros, some of them very rare.
There are many opportunities for collaboration, for example with coin museums. We could even consider working with numismatists to explore other types of coin or currency. Collectors could use our platform to “mine” their coins.
My current job is part-time working in the physical world, which gives me a real perspective on the numismatic market. I conduct auctions of gold and silver coins in the physical world, which gives me real-time insight into the prices of these collections. This is where my role in the dematerialized world connects with my role in the tangible, physical world.
Let’s move on to our new section “COIN” – a nod to Crypto, Organization, Innovation, and NFT. For each category, nominate a person or company to highlight. Who knows, they could be our next guests!
So, let’s start with the “C”. Do you have a crypto you’d like to highlight? Sure, let’s try to keep it relevant and avoid lost memes on an obscure blockchain.
Casper, I’d like to find out even more about the project and its news, so why not do an interview?
Ok, let’s go to O for “Organization”, other than the ones you’re involved in of course!
I’m going to mention an art collective close to my heart, GXRLS REVOLUTION. It’s a Paris-based collective led by two talented women who promote women’s artistic projects. Their work explores identity in the current context, tackling subjects such as “wokeness”. I’ve been impressed by their exhibitions, most recently at the IHAM Gallery in Paris. They are dedicated to promoting women’s artistic creation internationally.
Let’s move on to the “I” for Innovation. Do you know of a company, project, or community that you think is demonstrating innovation in blockchain, cryptos, or NFT?
An innovative project that recently impressed me is Prompt ID. They are developing an AI-based environment to help entrepreneurs manage time-consuming tasks, such as answering emails or organizing chatbots. They implement APIs to automate tasks such as organizing Twitter posts or setting up automatic email replies. The team, based in France, is made up of two very friendly engineers. I was impressed by their work and think they deserve to be highlighted.
Okay, to conclude our discussion on this topic, I’m going to ask you one last question, related to the N in our acronym: NFT. Is there a specific NFT project you’d like to highlight?
One NFT project that impressed me was that of Hermine Bourdin. She combines digital and augmented reality to create an experience where you can interact with your NFT. She works with dance movements and round shapes. She also has a physical side, doing pottery and sculpture. You can walk around with your NFT “digital companion” in augmented reality. She is one of the few artists to explore all three artistic axes. She’s working on major projects with various foundations, so now might be a good time to discover her work.
To conclude, could you sum up Artorus in just three words?
CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Coinpri I have been navigating the waters of Blockchain for 5 years already.
Wait, I can see the Promised Land of Adoption in the distance.