Bohemian Family Sells NFTs to Preserve and Share a 700-year-Old Legacy
Bohemian Family Sells NFTs to Preserve and Share a 700-year-Old Legacy

Bohemian Family Sells NFTs to Preserve and Share a 700-year-Old Legacy

7 august, 20224 minutes to read
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CNBC made an interview with William Rudolf Lobkowicz, a 27-year-old prince from a Czech noble family who has turned to NFTs and cryptocurrency to safeguard and repair the artifacts from his family archive. We summarized it for you.

William made preserving his family and his nation's cultural heritage his life’s work and mission. To him, the strength of a country rests on preserving the cultural roots which define it.

However, preserving such a huge collection, as his family's one, costs a lot of money. Three castles, one palace, 20,000 moveable artifacts, a library of approximately 65,000 rare books, 5,000 musical artifacts and compositions, and 30,000 boxes and folios demand huge sums each year.

It's been a long time since these collections have been declared Czech cultural monuments, so the Lobkowiczes can’t sell any pieces to help pay to restore the rest. Meanwhile, traditional philanthropy channels are running dry as museum patronage continues to fall.

The Lobcowiczes are relying on income from things like castle tours, the gift shop, and hosting events such as weddings and corporate retreats.They also appeal to donors, apply for grants from the government, and secure loans — often at sky-high interest rates. In this way, NFTs and crypto can become a new source of income, the family desperately needs to keep everything afloat.

It’s not just about selling NFTs to support cultural monuments, but it’s also looking at how do we preserve a record of our history? Blockchain technology provides an immutable record of our cultural heritage, which you can preserve on chain, and that’s something that’s never been done before,

explains William.

His collections feature world-famous paintings by Bellotto, Bruegel, Canaletto, Cranach, Rubens, and Veronese, as well as ceramics spanning five centuries, 1,200 pieces of arms and armor, and string and wind instruments, including trumpets gilded in gold and adorned with rubies. The collection also includes early manuscripts and scores, including several Beethoven symphonies and his Opus 18 String Quartets, some marked with the composer’s original corrections.

All of that has been first stolen by Nazis and then divided into little collections and sent to different museums all over the country by the Soviets.

“We’ve dealt with losing our collections twice and regaining them twice as a result of authoritarian regimes, but the way we got them back was actually through the receipts they kept,

says William.

Both regimes tracked the process and the provenance history of these pieces, so William's father was able to trace ownership and identify where they had been over time. In his view, cryptocurrency blockchains are just an updated version of those lists. William compares crypto to a membership card to :a whole world of history and culture.”

So far, the most successful way ways to incorporate blockchain technology into the work with The Lobkowicz Collections has been selling NFTs to support specific conservation needs. The family takes a painting that needs restoration and mints an image of the painting as an NFT. The provenance of the donation and donor is also included on chain. From there, they set the price of the NFT at the cost of the restoration of the physical work tied to the token.

In this way, the House of Lobkowicz has successfully financed more than 50 art restoration projects through this proof-of-patronage philanthropic model. Collectively, the family has raised $300,000 through the sale of NFTs.

When asked whether he was worried about the fact that the price of NFTs has fallen off a cliff in the last few months, Lobkowicz said that the boom and bust cycle of the market doesn’t really affect their business model. If a restoration costs $4,000, that is exactly what they charge for the piece — and it either sells or it doesn’t.

It’s important for people to understand that this isn’t about just JPEGs attached to a digital receipt — we’re talking about different applications that can change the way we build communities of people who care about culture and see the potential of using web3 technology to preserve it,

Recently, Willima has also been testing the metaverse. Lobkowicz worked with Somnium — a virtual reality world built on the ethereum blockchain — to put one of the rooms in the palace in Prague into the metaverse.

Previously, the family sold an NFT corresponding to the three-month restoration of this room, known as the Chinese Belvedere, for $79,000 to Oxb1, a famous crypto influencer.

Another interesting idea, is turning Renaissance portraits of gowns worn by ladies of the court into gaming skins. The market is booming and is estimated $40 billion globally. William is also thinking about digitizing the family’s stockpile of historic weapons to sell as NFTs (complete with the story of their provenance) to be used in a gaming setting. That would also help with the $400,000 price tag to restore and catalogue their inventory – which is one of the most important private arms collections in Europe.

7 august, 2022
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