Future of Money

Ballet NFTs starring Russian dancer Osipova offered for auction

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LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Auction house Bonhams said on Monday it was selling the world’s first non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for ballet, with Russian dancer Natalia Osipova in the starring role.

The NFTs feature three video performances by Osipova, principal dancer at London's Royal Ballet. Two are from the classic "Giselle", while the third is from "Left behind", a contemporary dance she has performed with her partner Jason Kittelberger.

Osipova and her partner wanted to use some of the funds to set up a ballet company, Bonhams head of digital art, Nima Sagharchi, said during a preview of the works.

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"Performing artists up till now have had no way to sell ownership in their performances," he said. "NFTs afford them that opportunity."

They also want to create platform would give more grassroots performers access to NFT technology, Sagharchi added.

"I really hope that we can create an art platform because dance is always left behind," Osipova, who has most recently danced in "Giselle" at London's Royal Opera House, told Reuters.

Natalia Osipova performs a divert from "Dying Swan" as part of "The Royal Ballet: Live, Within the Golden Hour", a live streamed performance at the Royal Opera House, amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, London, Britain, November 12, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The market for NFTs - niche crypto assets which are blockchain-based records of ownership of a digital item such as an image or a video - has been surging, though sceptics have warned of a bubble.

Successful buyers will have full licence of the works.

The collection, called "Natalia Osipova: Triptych" will be offered at Bonhams’ "Encore! Modern Art on Stage" auction, with bidding open from Monday until Dec. 10.

"Giselle, The entrance of Act II" and "Giselle, Solo of Act II", both shot this month, are seen fetching between 8,000 pounds and 12,000 pounds each ($10,635 - $15,953). Video of the 2019 live performance in Mexico of "Left behind" has a price estimate of 30,000 pounds - 50,000 pounds.

The NFTs are being offered alongside paintings, prints, manuscripts and costume designs among other items for theatre, ballet, dance, music and circus.

($1 = 0.7522 pounds)

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Reporting by Ben Makori; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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