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Meet the Czech aristocratic family who turn to the NFTs to protect a 700-year-old art collection

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A link between the Nazis and TVN is not obvious, but one exists due to the Nazis’ habit of being meticulous archivists.

As they swept across Europe, killing millions and claiming goods as the Führer’s prize, they issued receipts for everything they stole. And when the Communists carried out a coup d’état in Czechoslovakia in 1948, they followed the example of the Nazis.

This practice of issuing receipts for loot has since proven to be extremely useful. This was the case in 1989, when a 28-year-old Czech prince named William Lobkowicz returned from exile to America to claim his family’s legacy: a priceless collection of 40,000 artifacts dating back 700 years.

These works – which include 16th and 17th century paintings by Renaissance master Bruegel and portrait painter of the Spanish royal family Velázquez, as well as hand-annotated manuscripts by Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn – are again in danger, this times by COVID lockdowns that have dried up museums of patrons helping pay for their upkeep.

After overseeing the collection for 700 years, Maison Lobkowicz is basing its hopes for cultural preservation on an invention that did not exist. Seven years ago: NFT – the 21st century digital version of an ownership receipt.

In mid-October, the family holds a forum and gala in Lobkowicz Palace, part of the famous Prague Castle, which was finally returned to the family in 2003 after a 12-year court battle. There, it will host a free exhibition of important works by NFT, including a Edward Snowden NFT bought by PleasrDAO for $ 5.4 million in ETH in April.

He will also use the event as a launching pad for the family’s own NFT aspirations.

“The vision is really that our family shares the past and creates the future,” said Prince William Rudolf Lobkowicz, the son of fellow Prince William, who drove with his lawyer across the country in a battered Skoda for investigate the family. possessions in 1989 — in an interview with Decrypt. “And we really want to explore this intersection between the traditional art world and this rapidly evolving technology.”

The focus of the family is also more than creating a JPEG that you can purchase from the gift shop. Prince William said the goal was not to produce “direct copies” but rather to “show how technology can be something that enhances our experience with these cultural assets”.

He described the use of NFTs to display X-ray and infrared images, looking under the invisible layers of a canvas to see works that have been painted. “Or,” he said, “use technology to present multiple mediums to play music that hasn’t been played in 250 years.”

The Beethoven Music Room. Image: Lobkowicz House
The Bruegel room. Image: Lobkowicz House
Lobkowicz Palace. Image: Lobkowicz House

In other words, it is about improving people’s relationship with art rather than creating a facsimile of it, while making the museum a hub for the democratization of the fine arts. This is similar to the approach, for example, of generative NFTs which modify the relationship between the consumer and the creator.

In the case of the Lobkowicz family, the relationship-building potential of TVNs could prove particularly useful. This is because the Czech Republic has declared that every piece in its collection is a cultural monument that cannot be sold or even leave the country, but must be preserved nonetheless.

Even if art lovers cannot come to the museum, they can buy NFTs as “proof of patronage”, explains young Prince William. Only, instead of receiving a member magazine in the mail, they receive actual art for their contribution. Purchasing an NFT in the Metaverse supports the upkeep of physical works in the real world.

The prince, who is leading the charge in the effort, says it goes beyond that. “From my perspective as a genre of the next generation of the family, we’ve been thinking about ways to create communities that will be interested in the arts and feel a kind of buy-in to what we’re working on, and want to continue to have some kind of connection with the collections, ”he said. This may involve wanting to support the collection through individual ownership or even working through a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, to organize physical collections.

And he believes these new methods of community building and art sharing can stand the test of time.

“As a family with 700 years of history,” he said, “we think long term a lot.”

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