While NFTs are everywhere and now seem inseparable from the art and luxury sector, Icon-Icon has decided to learn more about this sometimes still obscure environment for some.
Who better than Benjamin Jeunet, co-founder of SECR3T, the first platform to create, collect and exchange NFTs associated with real contemporary works of art, to decipher with us this phenomenon? The objective of SECR3T become the gallery/house of sale essential of the Web3.
In order to anchor its first project in collaboration with artist OneMizer in the real world and open up the two worlds, SECR3T presented during an ephemeral exhibition – on April 14 at Legacy, at the heart of the emblematic Hôtel Barrière Le Fouquet’s– its first collection of connected screens and artwork created for the event.
Two worlds that go hand in hand – contemporary art and technology – promise more than the most iconic collaboration…
To recontextualize for our readers, could you go back to your journey to the NFT and how you came up with the idea of SECR3T?
My partner Jocelyn Grosjean comes from marketing and events. He lives in Lisbon where he develops the SECR3T technology. My background is different but complementary. I evolved in the luxury world in Paris, in the distribution and partnerships with experiences that allowed me to meet many artists. Together, we looked at the market and the opportunities this new territory offered. Our shared passion for cryptocurrencies and contemporary art has dictated the way forward. We decided to launch ourselves in the NFTs sector by proposing an initiative more ambitious than the projects in circulation; the first platform to create, collect and exchange NFTs, associated with real works of art. Quickly, we approached artist OneMizer and developed together his collections of NFTs. Success was there and the community took hold of the phenomenon. SECR3T was born from this path displaying the premises of a new gallery/ sales house of the Web3.
The NFT is still a rather vague concept for many, what is really a platform dedicated to NFTs?
The very definition of NFT encompasses a multitude of possibilities. An NFT can be an item in a video game, a title, a ticket to an event, an access to an experience or a real work of art. SECR3T offers a unique experience in the last category. We collaborate with renowned real-world artists and use NFT to strengthen their creations, facilitate exchanges, generate traceability and certify the provenance of the works we publish. We’re art dealers 3.0. SECR3T accompanying the artists to the conquest of the Web3 and anticipating the needs of collectors by proposing exclusive works, which they will be able to enjoy for life in the Metavers without any risk. With SECR3T, everything is certified, authentic and 100% secure.
You reconcile art and digital, do you think NFT art differs from traditional art?
There are many different points of views. If we consider computer creations such as Beeple, yes there is a difference due to the process directly thought for an NFTs format without any other repository. In the case of SECR3T, NFT art complements a previously selected physical work. For the artist, the act of creation remains identical to the usual conditions, unlike the NFT which gives the initial work a completely different dimension. At that moment the magic happens. This is the whole object of the collection «90’s Vibes» by OneMizer. We have transformed the original work into an animated 3D NFT. In the same way we are currently animating a painting by the artist Guillermo Lorca. Every day, we see the work come to life thanks to digital support.
Some people tend to see NFTs as a fashion phenomenon, what is your vision on this phenomenon and its sustainability?
Any emerging phenomenon raises questions of legitimacy. When it comes to NFTs, we have to look beyond the trend to understand what this technology entails, particularly in terms of certification and traceability. I take the example of event ticketing. When a concert is sold out, the last available places usually find themselves in the second market, which always presents a risk of being fake. The NFT makes this practice impossible, since sales and exchanges are carried out on the blockchain. The guarantee of a valid ticket becomes undeniable.
The same goes for SECR3T. Thanks to the technology we have developed, certification is placed at the heart of our ecosystem. Today, the security we offer is more efficient than any document or warranty certificate that can be easily made. For any discerning collector, buying NFTs via SECR3T gives the assurance of provenance and authenticity in real time. Some uses of the NFT will surely disappear, but the already legendary technology is only at the beginning of its history.
Why do you think the world of art and luxury in general is so fascinated by NFTs?
If we look at the major structural evolutions of our industries, all have experienced a revolution with the arrival of the Internet 2.0; music with streaming, gaming with networked games, high consumption withtrade, catering with delivery services, etc. Until then, the advent of digital had not yet touched the world of art or luxury.
NFTs profoundly change our relationship to art. They restore power to artists and collectors and provide unlimited access to creation in general. Before, the information was opaque, today, the Blockchain offers total transparency and time-bound. This also applies to luxury goods, particularly in the fight against counterfeiting.
Will Luxe and NFT have to evolve jointly and inseparably?
The two are closely linked, since art is often marketed as a luxury product. The big brands quickly understood the interest of the NFT in their organization chart, allowing them to distill several levels of services to different types of clients. I will not be surprised to see LVMH offering NFTs that will bring customers into a membership system. This is a great way to segment and master customer benefits and keep track of their collections across all markets. We will soon be able to collaborate with the luxury world to offer new experiences.
You have managed to create a real community on discord, a central point to evolve in the NFT ecosystem, what is their profile?
Community is a key element of success in any NFT project. Acquiring an active community is a long process. At SECR3T, the profiles are very varied. We have as many thirty-year-olds eager to collect their first works of art, as we have experienced collectors who have joined us for the quality of our positioning. 90% of our community knows perfectly the world of cryptocurrency, it is the hyphen that connects them to SECR3T.
You had a first success NFT in collaboration with artist OneMizer thanks to the collection «The Shining Vandalized Lugia», could you come back to it?
Our collaboration started in 2021. We were following OneMizer as collectors for a few years. When our idea became obvious, we submitted it directly. He immediately approved our lines of development, very different from the other NFTs projects he had received until then. We were already active and experienced in the NFTs market, but wanted to take a step further with a larger sale and launch at the same time our technology that can link a physical work to its NFT. OneMizer is an artist who has many creative resources. This operation could not have seen the light of day without his energy.
From a specially created canvas, we developed 333 NFTs, some of which were rarer than others. This contributed to the «hype» and sales success. When we shipped the prints to the buyers after the sale, we received hundreds of photos in return. At that time, we realized that our initiative brought values to artists and meaning to art lovers.
In parallel you have organized an event exhibition at Legacy in the heart of the iconic Hôtel Barrière le Fouquet’s, do you think it is imperative to anchor NFTs in the real world?
NFTs represent an extension of the real world. Federating our community around an experience in a place dedicated to contemporary creation was at the heart of our approach. This was a first; for the first time NFTs were entering a Parisian concept store. At the moment, we are studying another exhibition project – still confidential at this stage – combining physical art and NFTs scheduled for the end of the year. Although it is difficult to predict the future of the market, we at SECR3T believe that this step is necessary to accompany the digital transformation of the arts sector.
We understood that a second drop was in the news. What did you plan for this second collection?
The second drop was launched on March 17, 2022, a few weeks before our event at Legacy. We published 258 NFTs in the same vein as «The Shining Vandalized Lugia», with the same mechanisms of collection and rarity. For this collection, we pushed the creation of the NFT to animated 3D. The collectors were thus able to benefit from two works: a physical print signed, numbered and produced by Lézarts Urbains and an animated version, designed for use in the virtual (metavers) and in the real world, to be projected onto a screen like digital works in some museums.
Do you plan to collaborate with other artists? If so, which ones?
We are always looking to go further and propose new experiences. SECR3T aims to function as a gallery 3.0. In the coming months, we will be working with many artists. There will be exclusive collections such as OneMizer, but also online exhibitions, whose works present in NFT will exist in the real world, where art lovers will be able to evolve in a virtual gallery and receive the original work during the acquisition of the NFT. Currently, we are developing with Chilean artist Guillermo Lorca, a magnificent collection whose release is planned in a few months.
You claim to differentiate yourself by the rarity of your works but what makes your works rare? Is this here the value of an NFT?
The collections we published had about 300 pieces. In the NFT sphere it is a reduced offer, compared to others composed of thousands of pieces. Some had only 8 copies of rarity. Prices immediately increased on the secondary market compared to the less rare ones. But it is not the only vector to value an NFT. Publishing unique pieces also counts. For example, an artist prepares an exhibition of 10 paintings. We only create a copy of the NFT. It will contain all the data in the table and its pedigree. In the image of the unique piece painted by the artist there will be only one NFT. The two parts become intimately linked and can no longer be dissociated. When you want to sell the painting, you must also transfer your NFT or vice versa, since it is the latter that certifies the authenticity of the work.
What do you think is the most iconic work you have had the chance to work on?
Our story is still young and written every day. The OneMizer «Vandalized Lugia» will remain the original piece, the icon of our starting point and will retain the status of mythical piece. We are currently working on a painting by Guillermo Lorca called «The Healer». The piece is exhibited at the MOCO Museum in Barcelona on the occasion of his solo show. It is an immense privilege to be able to project a work exhibited in such a prestigious museum in the digital age.
To conclude, at Icon-Icon, we are interested in products, experiences, or emblematic places of luxury. Do you have a souvenir, a talisman, a luxury-related fetish that you’d like to share with us?
Want to make an NFT?
I have kept a special link with the world of luxury and high-quality craftsmanship, as well as the constants of my professional career. I have always watched doers create wonders with their unique expertise. My experience in watchmaking has allowed me to meet real precision artists in their workshops. As such, my milestone object is a beautiful QLOCKTWO clock painted by Black Badger that I look at every day as an accomplishment.
Interview by Sébastien Girard, President of Icon-Icon and Saskia Blanc.
Leave a Reply