“Fillette au beret” is being sold – or “tokenised” – via blockchain in what Sygnum, the digital asset-focused Swiss bank organising the sale, says is a world first.

A gallery worker poses alongside an artwork titled 'Femme assise près d'une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse)' by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso during a photocall at Christie’s auction house in central London on April 22, 2021.
A gallery worker poses alongside an artwork titled 'Femme assise près d'une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse)' by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso during a photocall at Christie’s auction house in central London on April 22, 2021. (Reuters)

Connoisseurs of Pablo Picasso will soon be able to own a share in one of his paintings for less than $6,000 – though they won’t actually buy the right to see the work, which will be stored under lock and key in Switzerland.

"Fillette au béret" is being sold - or "tokenised" - via the blockchain in what Sygnum, the digital asset-focused Swiss bank organising the sale, says is a world first.

"This marks the first time the ownership rights in a Picasso, or any artwork, are being broadcast onto the public blockchain by a regulated bank," it and co-organiser Artemundi, an art investment company, said.

READ MORE: NFT sales surge past $2.5B during first half of 2021

Subscriptions for the $3.68 million (4 million Swiss franc) sale are expected to open at the end of July, with tradable shares in the painting available for 5,000 Swiss francs and above.

The 1964 work depicting a beret-capped child in bright colors on canvas was last sold for $2.48 million (21.4 million Swedish krona) by auction house Uppsala Auktionskammare in 2016.

It is not the first painting by the notoriously iconoclastic Picasso to rub shoulders with the blockchain.

Driven by a surge this year in the market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), often focused on digital-only artworks and other virtual items , Sotheby's flagged an NFT-linked sale of Picasso's "Le peintre et son modèle" in June.

The painting sold for $3.12 million (2.25 million pounds), though plans for the joint sale of an NFT - a one-of-a-kind token that exists on a blockchain - that would link ownership to a digital version were scrapped, the auction house said.

READ MORE: Tech enthusiasts willing to invest more in risky NFT market

Also in June, NFT art market Unique.One opened an auction for an NFT tied to a Picasso print, Fumeur V, which in April had sold at Christie's for 15,000 pounds. The print - one of 50 of the same work - was first displayed at a gallery in Denver before being burned to create the NFT "The Burned Picasso".

However, in the "Fillette au béret" sale, the tokens are fungible - or exchangeable - and no Picasso will be burned.

But no physical artwork will change hands either, as the painting, while being available for loan to museums and exhibitions, will be stored in a high-security facility, the organisers said.

READ MORE: World Wide Web source code NFT sells for $5.4M at Sotheby's

Source: Reuters