Despite the Russian state’s mostly unfriendly stance on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), a major state-backed museum is benefiting from the industry, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through non-counterfeitable tokens, or NFTs.
The Russian State Hermitage Museum, the world’s largest museum, has completed its first NFT auction on the Binance cryptocurrency exchange’s NFT platform, selling five tokenized collections depicting masterpieces by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh.
The sale includes five NFT copies of artworks hosted by the Hermitage, including Wassily Kandinsky’s Composition VI, Giorgione’s Judith, Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna and Child, Claude Monet’s A Corner of the Garden of Montgeron and Van Gogh’s Lilac Grove.
According to the Binance NFT platform, the Hermitage auction generated more than $444,000 worth of Binance USD (BUSD), the dollar-denominated stablecoin operated by Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.
The highest bid in the auction was for Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna, with the winning bidder offering 150,500 BUSD for a digital representation of the famous artwork.
All proceeds from the NFT auction will be donated to the Hermitage. Announcing plans for the NFT sale in July, the Hermitage said its legal department was working with legal consultancy firm LFCS to create and sell the NFT using a model that “fully complies with Russian law”.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency payments like Bitcoin are still far from being legally accepted in Russia. Earlier today, Dmitry Peskov, an official representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterated that there is no reason for Russia to recognize bitcoin as legal tender, as it would be detrimental to the country’s financial system. Russia officially bans residents from making payments in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in January 2021 as part of its crypto law, the Digital Financial Assets Law.