Picasso heirs to launch digital art piece

Switzerland Digital Picasso
Marina Picasso and her son will sell 1010 digital art pieces of one of Pablo Picasso's ceramic works -AP

Heirs of Pablo Picasso, the famed 20th-century Spanish artist, are vaulting into 21st-century commerce by selling 1010 digital art pieces of one of his ceramic works that has never before been seen publicly.

Picasso's granddaughter, Marina Picasso, and her son Florian Picasso are looking to cash in on and ride a wave of interest in non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, which have netted millions for far-less-known artists and been criticised by some as environmentally costly get rich schemes.

A Picasso, his family's promoters say, would mark the entry of a Grand Master into the game.

"We're trying to build a bridge between the NFT world and the fine art world," said Florian Picasso, the artist's great-grandson.

The artist's descendants are playing close to the vest, to drum up interest and protect — for now — a family heirloom. 

They are showing only a sliver of the underside of the work linked to the NFTs, a ceramic piece about the size of a large salad bowl. The exposed parts show forms like a thick yellow line, a dribbling green splotch, and a brushed-on number "58" at the base.

Marina Picasso says the cherished pottery piece dates to October 1958, when she was a child.

"It's a work that represents a face, and it's very expressive," she said. 

"It's joyful, happy. It represents life ... It's one of those objects that have been part of our life, our intimate lives — my life with my children."

An NFT Picasso brings with it almost epochal symbolism, something like when the Beatles collection was finally put up on iTunes. The family and its business managers say the aim is to create a younger community of Picasso fans.

"Everything is evolving," said Florian Picasso, insisting that the NFT honours the great artist.

"I think it fits within Picasso's legacies because we are paying tribute to him and his way of working, which was always being creative," he said.

Some of the proceeds will be donated — one portion to a charity that aims to help overcome a shortage of nurses, and another to a non-governmental organisation that wants to help reduce carbon in the atmosphere. 

The NFTs will also come with music put together by Florian Picasso, who is a DJ and music producer, along with songwriter John Legend and rapper Nas.

"And to hear more, you gotta purchase the NFT," he quipped.