JSG Boggs’ property has been characterized by the late artist’s drawings of banknotes, which questioned the value of money, such as NFT’s
In life, artist JSG Boggs printed money, literally, colored pencil in hand. In death, his estate continues his legacy of questioning the value of money by issuing five NFTs based on his original banknote artwork.
The drop comes five years after Boggs’ death and in partnership with laCollection, a platform dedicated to encouraging prominent museums and galleries to dip a toe into Web3. In fact, it was the platform’s work with the British Museum and Vienna’s Leopold Museum that caught the attention of the property’s digital advisor Jeff Koyen. “laCollection is serious about exhibiting world-class art,” he told Artnet News.
The sale, “JSG Boggs: Money Talks,” begins with 50 pound note (1990), a digital edition of the kind of work that earned the American artist a date at London’s Old Bailey and considerable attention. In 1986, ahead of a show at the Young Unknowns Gallery, the Bank of England charged him with breaching the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act. The jury unanimously acquitted Boggs and the bank duly affixed the copyright symbol to its notes.
As the story goes, Boggs drew his first dollar bill in 1984 at a Chicago restaurant. He paid for a coffee and donut with the marked napkin and received 10 øre in change. A penny dropped, and for the next 30 years he assiduously replicated this process of creating and exchanging global notes, albeit with cheeky alterations (a $5,000 note with a self-portrait or a £10 note marked with the words “For the Gov … Time” is money”).
Boggs has always been a prankster and encouraged collectors to join his performance. Those who did received works whose market value far exceeded face value, a phenomenon certainly known in the NFT era. Koyen sees the lineage of NFTs dating back to Boggs: “Enchanted by the digital ether, NFTs saw their prices skyrocket as buyers were assigned greater and greater value. I have to imagine Boggs would have loved the NFT phenomenon.” But Boggs’ crypto credentials go back further: he hoped to create his own currency, “Bogg,” and reportedly worked on an encrypted online currency in the early 2000s. laCollection calls him the “Patron Saint of Cryptocurrency.”
Unlike Boggs, who bartered rather than sold bills in exchange for a service and a receipt, “Money Talks” prices its NFTs, which are issued in editions of 50, at €350 ($345) or around ETH 0 ,26. In addition to the artwork, buyers receive a printed note from Bogg’s archive, an equally tangible crypto receipt and an invitation to exclusive viewings of Bogg’s archive and Q&A with the estate’s advisor.
“The format of the release is based on the concept of Bogg’s artistic process,” laCollection founder Jean-Sébastien Beauchamp told Artnet News. “We wanted to recreate the experience [of collecting Boggs] and the works contain all the elements of his process.”
As with all of its sales, laCollection has dubbed this release “an exhibition” and showcases other money-minded crypto-artists alongside Boggs in a broader exploration of what it calls “Art & Currency.” These educational elements serve to differentiate laCollection from transactional NFT marketplaces, such as OpenSea or Rarible, thereby convincing traditionally conservative art institutions to create NFTs. Previously, the Paris-based platform held curator-led webinars to coincide with British Museum Hokusai releases, and offered exhibition previews and behind-the-scenes access when it partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts Boston on a collection of French Impressionist NFTs.
Boggs’ estate will use all proceeds to fund the preservation of his archives. “Boggs was a wonderful collector, but perhaps not the best archivist,” Koyen said. “We hope to use funds to make Boggs’ work digitally available to the public and perhaps even open a physical location in the future.”
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