There are those who don’t believe in them at all and those who invest a lot in. We are talking about Non Fungible Tokens, digital artworks with a steadily growing market and for which revenues of $3,546 million are expected in 2023. Many of the collectors choose to remain anonymous to provide security and avoid attacks by hackers. Anonymous and faceless is also NFT’s biggest collector, who on social media refers to himself as the “grand patron” of the digital Renaissance. He is Cozomo de’ Medici, who chooses this pseudonym comparing himself to the Florentine banker and patron of Renaissance art, because just like him he stands as a supporter of artistic projects, in this case related to blockchain. There was a lot of speculation about his identity, for a time it was thought he might be rapper Snoop Dog, a big fan of NFT, who after a tweet – later denied – declared, “I’m Cozomo de’ Medici.”
Cozomo de’ Medici began his collection by purchasing in July 2021 for 1550 ETH – at the time the equivalent of $2.63 million – two CryptoPunk Zombies, works by developers Matt Hall and John Watkinson and among the most coveted NFT series among collectors. Other big names in crypto art such as Sam Spratt, Deejay Motion and XCOPY stand out in the collection. In addition to the best known, Cozomo also owns works by emerging artists, he told a Christie’s interview, “I think the definition of patronage is to buy art that you love. Patrons have a responsibility to promote emerging artists.”
The relationship between artists and buyers in the NFT market is central. If artists are the first to buy works, it is easier to break the barrier of mistrust that accompanies many crypto art-related projects, which suffers from a disvalue bias compared to more traditional, gallery and fair art. With this in mind, a collector like Cozomo de’ Medici is no longer just a figure to talk about from a speculative point of view, but in effect reflects a new trend in art, a new patronage of digital art.
These days, it is Cozomo de’ Medici’s collection that has come into the spotlight because of the collector’s conspicuous donation of NFT works to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Prominent among the twenty-two donated works are female-themed works by Yam Karkai, a photograph by Justin Aversano, one of Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringers, and CryptoPunk #3831.
The “on-chain art influencer” (as he has also been called because of his social following) thus bridges the gap between digital and physical art at the museum, now in possession of 37 NFT works, while at the same time inspiring it to create new ways to preserve and exhibit digital works.
Cozomo de’ Medici is not the only one to have donated pieces from its collection to museum institutions; in fact, recently the company Yuga Labs also donated a CryptoPunk to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Museums themselves are taking in and purchasing NFT works, creating a permanent digital collection. In addition to LACMA and the Pompidou, Miami’s ICA and San Francisco’s MoMA are also joining this new trend, which is needed to preserve, promote and disseminate a 360-degree understanding of 21st century contemporary art.