By Sonia Stubblebine
Covid-19 has plunged all sectors in major crisis including cultural one – the wild idea of the way how France can offset its losses from the shutdown came to French businessmen and CEO of Fabernovel Stéphane Distinguin. France should “sell the family jewellery” told Distinguin to Usbek & Rica MagazineHe proposed a radical and unprecedented idea of selling the most famous painting in the world – Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Gioconda embodies classicism more than any other painting that one can think of. This step of selling such an iconic painting reveals French’ willingness for exchanging old for new and heritage for possible creation. Located in Louvre since 1793 this painting gained popularity and visibility that have never been achieved by any other piece of art. This artwork of 79.4 centimeters high and 53.4 centimeters wide can be recognized by anyone and have attracted millions on visitors every year to Louvre.
Apart from the wild idea of selling Mona Lisa itself, the price that Stéphane Distinguin gave to Mona Lisa leaves one even in a deeper state of shock – Gioconda was estimated by him for at least €50 billion. Various critics and journalists have stated that the price is definitely overestimated, even far-fetched although no significant arguments have been provided in the media yet. The spectacular and in a certain way unbelievable price came from various factors. First of all, other paintings by Leonardo da Vinci have been sold in recent years with extremely high prices as well. The “Salvator Mundi” was sold for $450 Million and ended up on the yacht of a Saudi prince. Another example could be found by Italian idea of loaning “Vitruvian Man” against a deposit of one billion euros in 2019. Another pivotal factor that could determine painting’s value could be the income that Mona Lisa provided to the Louvre and overall to France annually. Direct together with indirect revenues could be calculated – thus, ending up in a colossal sum. According to Stéphane Distinguin’s calculations, Mona Lisa attracted about 30,000 visitors daily in 2019, forming 7 million visitors per year. Apart from understanding how significant Mona Lisa is for French tourism, these facts reveal that one painting generates 1,500 euros of expenditure on average per tourist (direct and indirect expenditures), thus, forming at least €3 billion per year.
In the process of selling “Mona Lisa” technology can play an essential role, bringing new possibilities and various advantages. Consideration of “tokenizing” Mona Lisa was proposed by Stéphane Distinguin –the term of “tokenizing” an asset refers to the process of using a blockhain token that digitally represents a real tradable asset. The tokens, a virtual representation of such information or assets, can be stored on the blockchain and potentially bought or sold. By “tokenizing” one is creating financial products having that underlying asset. Tokenization will bring various legal and technical advantages: it would allow France and the Louvre to retain control and the capacity to exploit the painting. In case of traditional way of selling Mona Lisa would have left the Louvre which would definitely influence her reputation and significantly lower her status. Gioconda and Louvre “work” together and part of the value of this masterpiece is in its “context”. “Tokenizing” this artwork might provide a perfect solution, leaving France with one and only Mona Lisa together with monetizing the masterpiece.