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MAK Vienna Becomes First Museum to Use Bitcoin to Acquire Art, a Harm van den Dorpel

Screenshot of the screensaver, Event Listeners.  COURTESY COINTEMPORARY.COM

Screenshot of van den Dorpel’s screensaver, Event Listeners.

COURTESY COINTEMPORARY.COM 

Digital currencies have been (very) slowly but surely infiltrating the art market, and now the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (MAK) has become the first museum in the world to have purchased a work of art using Bitcoin.

That work, Dutch artist Harm van den Dorpel’s Event Listeners (2015), a limited-edition screensaver currently displayed on the online gallery Cointemporary.com, will be featured in an upcoming show titled “24/7 – The Human Condition” as part of the first-ever Vienna Biennale 2015: Ideas for Change, which will run from June 11 to October 4.

Event Listeners was created especially for a panel held on March 31 called “MAK NITE Lab Digital Superposition – The File as an Object,” for which experts from fields such as contemporary art, artificial intelligence, and art law were invited to speak. The work was cryptographically authenticated through Blockchain, which uses the same technology as Bitcoin to determine artwork attribution.

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