Uffizi Gallery sell works in NFT. The whole story and the controversy

A report by the TV show Le Iene about the Uffizi Gallery selling digital copies of his masterpieces raises a media case. The ministry is halting the reproduction for fear the operation could damage the national heritage. Here’s the full story

“Galeotto was Michelangelo’s ‘Tondo Doni’ and who sold it”: The complicated dispute that ignites the Italian media in these hours could be paraphrased like this, starting with a report by Marco Occhipinti and Antonino Monteleone, scheduled for the May 25 episode hyenas, on ItaliaUno. That Round giftsthe original kept in the Uffizi Gallery, has not been sold, but recently its digital copy has been put up for sale, which is also an original due to the particular technology used to make it: in short, a masterpiece of art history It is possible his to create a digital copy – in the case of the Round gifts It consists of a handcrafted frame that contains a screen that faithfully reproduces the work of Michelangelo. Digital reproduction of the tondo Doni – founded by Cinello, a company founded by John Blem and Franco Losi that specializes in creating DAWs, or digital artworks – was sold for €240,000, and Cinello also claimed the rights to digital copies of another 40 Uffizi works example then followed by other Italian museums. However, there have been doubts about this cooperation at ministerial level for some time: in recent months, the Director General of Museums Massimo Osanna has signed a circular to block the contracts between museums and companies that make digital copies amid the ministry’s fear of losing “Management, control and exploitation” digital images of the works of national heritage and the establishment of a special commission to evaluate cases in this regard.

Uffizi, the room dedicated to Raphael and Michelangelo. The protagonist is the Tondo Doni


In fact, the question that many are asking in these hours and that underlies the whole story is this: to what extent can the owner of the digital work that reproduces a masterpiece of art history exercise rights over the image of this masterpiece? Answers to the question are given by the Uffizi Gallery, which underlines in a press release how The contractor has no right to use the images provided for exhibitions or other unauthorized purposes and the property remains firmly in the hands of the Italian Republic. In short, from this point of view it seems that the management and control of the images of the works belonging to the state heritage is not in question, nor that the works can be exploited or used in an inconvenient way. The problem caused by the Abut it is also a different one.

Screen of the report by Marco Occhipinti and Antonino Monteleone in Le Iene
Screen of the report by Marco Occhipinti and Antonino Monteleone in Le Iene


As highlighted by the A, “The Cinello company is digitally reproducing 40 works from the Uffizi Gallery, as well as hundreds of other paintings from Italian museums, and the contract provides for 50 percent of net sales revenue to be split between the museum that owns the work and Cinello, the company that sells it will.”. In case of Round gifts, it is 240,000 euros, and Cinello and Uffizi each received 70,000 euros from the sale, excluding 100,000 euros in construction costs (which will therefore be borne by the buyers of the NFT). A sales commission is considered very high by Gian Luca Comandini, NFT and blockchain expert consulted by Awho also emphasizes: “The Uffizi should have put out a tender and found dozens of companies that have been doing this work for years, serious, reliable and that would probably have asked for an average commission of 3-4-5% “. Why was there no call for tenders? “This contract does not include any tenders as there is no exclusivity”replies the director of the Uffizi Eike Schmidt. “Those who come to us can ask to use our images. That means it’s enough that he pays us what we owe.. Of course he will also be consulted Franco Losi from Cinello, who replies as follows: “This isn’t the right way to approach things. He didn’t spend a penny on the museum to get this money, I would expect a thank you..

    Screen of the report by Marco Occhipinti and Antonino Monteleone in Le Iene
Screen of the report by Marco Occhipinti and Antonino Monteleone in Le Iene


The Ministry of Culture has announced that it is working on creating a guide for museum refresher courses on NFT in art, digital reproductions of artworks registered and numbered on the blockchain. As the Secretary of State pointed out Lucy BorgonzoniThe commission set up by the Ministry is based on two principles: “Inalienable ownership of the digital image by the public entity owning the asset” e “Non-exclusive use of digitized cultural assets”.


But even with ministerial and legal scrutiny, from a “conceptual” point of view, there is no danger of how much NFTs prove to be a threat to cultural heritage and how much they can challenge the concept of “uniqueness” around which the very essence of artistic practice has always revolved turns? The NFTs open up new critical frontiers of the artistic phenomenon whose “reproducibility” has already been explored by Walter Benjamin in the essay The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility (1936). Regardless, according to Benjamin “The here and now of the original constitutes the concept of its authenticity”perhaps in order to understand how to proceed in relation to NFT reproductions, one should first think about the aesthetic and fertility scenarios that these digital works open up today.


“Meanwhile we don’t do NFT”, the company replies cinello reached from artribune. “We are a company that applied for a patent registered in China, Europe and North America in 2016 and combined our patented technology in DAWs, digital works of art that allow us to make files unique. However, with NFTs, the certificate of provenance and ownership is unique, but the NFT has no content. And the company explains in more detail what their DAWs are and how they’re made: “A digital work of art consists of a series of elements. These include: a high-resolution file of the digital output created and a hardware support (myGal) on which is installed the Cinello software that implements the subject matter of the patent, that is, a model that binds the digital file to the devices through cryptography , through which it is displayed (myGal itself and Monitor) so that it cannot be copied and redistributed, and a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) numbered and signed by Cinello and the holder of the reproduction rights of the work, as well as of the IP rights (intellectual property) of the work itself. Additionally, a handcrafted 1:1 scale frame modeled after the original is supplied with the DAW.. In addition, Cinello points to the DAWs “They are not traded in cryptocurrency, but in current currencies; otherwise we would never have been able to contract with state museums based on a technology that is not regulated by law or taxation anywhere in the world.. As explained in the Uffizi press release, “Cinello does not own the work, only the digital artwork created. All rights in the work remain with the work and, in the case of the Tondo Doni, the Uffizi Gallery retains ownership of the rights in the work and its reproduction..

– Desiree Maida

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