The Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Louvre Exhibit That Wasn't: Untangling the Public Mess of a Non-Event

4 min

The NFT Louvre Exhibit That Wasn't: Untangling the Public Mess of a Non-Event

Past week, Artificial Intelligence (AI) artist Claire Silver announced her Non-Fungible Token (NFTs) would be displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris – which The Louvre rejected shortly after. Here’s what happened.

On Monday, March 6, Claire Silver, a well-regarded non-fungible crypto token (NFT) artist who uses artificial intelligence (AI) in her work, excitedly announced on Twitter platform and through an exclusive post in Variety that she would be exhibiting her art at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

Reports by Variety, her work was going to be presented at the Louvre “courtesy of Superchief Gallery NFT” and would premiere on March 21. The “Superchief-Louvre show,” as Variety wrote, would be a showing of her latest collection titled “can i tell you a secret,” which would be a series of 100 pieces created with AI.

Silver, whose work has been auctioned off by Sotheby’s and displayed in galleries around the globe, likewise shared on Twitter platform that her one-of-one Non-Fungible Token (NFT) artwork “Love in the 4th Turning” would be on exhibit at the Louvre.

The latest information garnered praise and support from artists and collectors across the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) space, who saw the exhibition as a sign of how digital art is gaining legitimacy in the traditional art world. Other museums, including Paris’ Centre Pompidou, the British Museum and the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) have recently embraced Non-Fungible Token (NFT) art, so a showing at the Louvre at the beginning seemed plausible.

Still, Silver’s notice was instantly met with skepticism online from members of the traditional art space – some suggested the exhibition would likely be at the Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping mall situated near the Louvre museum, while others cruelly implied that Silver was duped by unrealistic expectations.

On Friday, March 10, the Louvre confirmed that Silver would not be exhibiting there, leading to an outpouring of support for Silver by disappointed Non-Fungible Token (NFT) enthusiasts left questioning how the embarrassing mixup happened.

A case of miscommunication?

And once the Louvre eventually  set the record straight, Silver released (and deleted shortly thereafter) her version of the events. Thereafter, she tweeted that she was “unsure who misrepresented things.”

Superchief Gallery, the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) art gallery that was helping to support the exhibiting of Claire’s work, likewise posted a lengthy statement to Twitter sharing its version of events. It stated people at Paris Blockchain Tech Week, a blockchain tech summit to be held at the Carrousel du Louvre thereafter these 30 days, had lied about the details of the exhibition.

“They informed us, Paris Blockchain Tech Week has rented (“privatized”) the Louvre Museum. They stated that the Louvre Museum had an event rental area, for the conference, and that they were excited for us to come in as their “Art Partner,” Superchief Gallery stated in its statement.

Shortly after, Superchief Gallery stated its reps was known Silver to share the latest information. The gallery contends that Paris Blockchain Tech Week “did not represent the details and facts in that meeting, or any meeting we had afterwards,” only learning of the mixup on Twitter platform after the story about Silver’s exhibition went viral.

Superchief Gallery states in its statement that Paris Blockchain Tech Week overpromised. In the end, the gallery decided to cancel its participation in the event entirely.

Paris Blockchain Tech Week shared a different version of events. Organizers informed CoinDesk that the location of the event was clearly expressed in the heading and in the text of the contract they presented. CoinDesk was able to view the contract over Zoom to verify.

“It wouldn’t have been in our interest to try to mislead in any way,” the organizers said.

The group stated that in planning the details of the exhibition space they did not speak directly to Silver.

“We never heard of her. And she never heard of us,” they stated, adding that in light of the mishap they recently connected with Silver and offered to work together next year.

They shared that while the conference at large is being held at the Carrousel du Louvre, a fact that is splattered across their digital marketing materials, they are planning to host a private VIP dinner inside the Louvre museum, although they say this was never at the beginning discussed with Silver or the third party agency organizing on her behalf. They asserted that organizing the event came with “very strict rules” and that they have been ” incredibly attentive” to the images and text used to encourage that event.

Messages reviewed by CoinDesk suggest that representatives for Paris Blockchain Tech Week discussed the private VIP event inside the Louvre museum days after Silver shared news about the exhibition.

“Only after the Louvre contacted Claire did the agency start discussions about ways Claire’s artwork may be displayed at any point that may be deemed inside the Louvre museum – out of desperation. We looked into solutions to try to accommodate, but without knowing the full extent of promises that had already been made to Claire by the agent.”

A spokesperson for worldwide talent agency William Morris Endeavor (WME), which represents Silver, informed Variety in a statement that “it’s unfortunate that a third party misrepresented the details of this opportunity to our client Claire Silver. We fully support Claire and believe that she acted with integrity throughout this process.”

It’s unclear if a miscommunication took place at some point during the negotiating process. Early, informal conversations about the chance took place at another event in Paris the previous  30 days. Nonetheless, the official contract was only signed betwixt the two parties after Silver’s public notice had been made.

In the end, it appears that neither Paris Blockchain Tech Week nor Superchief Gallery intended to deceive Silver or the public deliberately. Neither party would have gained in the longstanding by lying about something that was so easily disproved, only to hurt Silver’s upstanding reputation in the art world.

The artist’s burden

Numerous people on social media came to Silver’s defense, keeping in mind that complex dynamics involving artists, agents, galleries, brokers and museums often exist. In the end, it appears that artists bear the brunt of the backlash from perceived failures, regardless of who else was involved or what happened behind the scenes.

“A gallery’s success is measured by the success of its artists, and success for artists is determined by intricate measures of endorsement: Which important museum exhibitions have they been in? Which biennials? Have the right collectors caught on?” wrote ARTNews in 2020.

Claire informed CoinDesk that she has taken a step back from the situation to preserve her well-being.

“I’m way out of my depth and have removed myself this is why. Things went wrong at every level, and I was naive and flying as well next to the sun to catch the  challenge myself.”

She stated that she had reasons to believe the exhibition at the Louvre was legitimate – she pointed out that the Louvre is closed to the public on Tuesdays and that the proposed exhibition would have been on a Tuesday. “I’ve seen artists use the museum as a setting for music videos etc., so it made sense to me that an exhibition was possible on a Tuesday,” she said.

In the end, she stated she isn’t placing the blame on any of the parties involved for the mishap. “I respect what [Paris Blockchain Tech Week] does for digital artists, and would have loved to exhibit at the [Carrousel du Louvre] if it was under any other context. I likewise deeply respect and am incredibly grateful to Superchief for fighting harder for Artificial Intelligence (AI) collaborative artists than anyone in the space.”


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