In March, Justin Sun, CEO of the cryptocurrency platform Tron, revealed that he had established an NFT investment fund focused on acquisitions of blue-chip art. Now, Sun’s recent purchases of works by Picasso and Warhol worth $22 million will be among the first pieces of art to be digitally registered on the blockchain via the new fund, titled JUST NFT, via a process known as tokenization.
In an open letter to the company’s constituents released by Tron Foundation on March 28, Sun stated the fund’s purpose is to tokenize works by international NFT artists as well as traditional fine art works using blockchain technology. “JUST NFT fund was born to build a bridge between top-notch artists and blockchain, and to support the growth of native crypto NFT artists,” Sun wrote in the statement.
Tokenizing fine art refers to the process of issuing a digital token registered on the blockchain that represents the physical asset. This conversion potentially allows investors more trading flexibility—shares of a digital asset can be divided into small percentages among multiple shareholders, and ownership and transaction records of the asset are embedded on the blockchain, making them unchangeable and presumably more secure.
The fund, which now holds around $30 million worth of art, aims to acquire artworks with a minimum price of $1 million and a $10 million median price. The restrictions are meant to ensure that the fund is focused on artists whose market’s have longevity. “We believe the art space is also subject to the 80–20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, where only the value of the artists sitting at the tippy-top of the pyramid can stand the test of time,” said Sun in a statement.
Sun’s establishment of the fund and his subsequent art buying spree is part of a larger effort to capitalize on the recent growth of the NFT market. In the days after the announcement, Sun confirmed that the fund purchased a $20 million Picasso painting titled Femme Nue Couchée au Collier (Marie-Thérèse), from 1932, and a $2 million Warhol, Three Self Portraits (1986), at Christie’s in London during their modern and contemporary evening art sale on March 23. This was all announced just after he revealed he was the underbidder on the record-breaking NFT by cult digital artist Beeple, which sold for $69 million in an online sale at Christie’s.
On April 18, Sun announced on social media that he had also purchased a collection of NFT works by Pak during an online auction staged by Nifty Gateway and Sotheby’s. In total, the auction of Pak’s NFTs brought in $17 million. Sun also said he bought Ocean Front, an NFT artwork by Beeple, for $6 million on March 23, and that this piece was the first one to be tokenized by JUST NFT.
Sun suggested in his statement that the fund’s team will tap specialists from Christie’s and Sotheby’s to advise as consultants. A representative for Sotheby’s denied that, but said that the auction house is “exploring ideas and opportunities” in the NFT realm with Sun as a client, through contemporary art specialist Max Moore, who was in charge of helping put together the Pak sale. A representative for Christie’s said there are no confirmed collaborations with the fund at this time.