Art Basel NFT

Art Basel NFT – Past and Future Come Together


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Art Basel is an international art fair that brings collectors, galleries, and artists together. With different locations, Art Basel supports galleries which boost the careers of thousands of artists.

NFTs on the other hand are a much more recent concept than the art fair itself. In short, Non-fungible Tokens were created as a platform for artists to have control and to claim ownership of their artworks and to earn money through that. Highly popular nowadays, NFTs can be bought in a huge variety, from digital art to virtual estates. Though it comes as no surprise that a huge art fair like Art Basel and NFT would come together for a new exhibition. Before leaping into that, we would like to invite you in taking a tour of Art Basel’s history, locations and artists. 

Art Basel History – How It All Started?

Art Basel’s history goes as far back as the 1970s. Three gallerists from Basel, Switzerland, gather to create an international art fair. They are Ernst Beyeler, Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt. The first show attracted more than 16,000 visitors who could attend 90 galleries and 30 publishers from ten countries. The following years brought more progress to the show:  

  • 1975 – Numbers have doubled. The show has attracted 37,000 visitors with 300 exhibitions and galleries from 21 countries. 
  • 2002 – Art Basel launches in Miami Beach, USA. Its first show features 160 galleries from 23 countries whilst attracting 30,000 visitors. 
  • 2013 – Art Basel launches in Hong Kong, China and attracts over 60,000 visitors with half of the participating galleries being from the Asian or Asia-Pacific region. 
  • 2020 – Art Basel’s 50th Anniversary. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the in-person fairs had to be postponed and/or eventually cancelled across all Art Basel locations. Instead, they decided to launch Art Basel Online Viewing Rooms. The first online event, substituting for the 2020 Hong Kong fair, was presented by 235 galleries with more than 2,000 art pieces. Overall, the event was attended by more than 250,000 viewers from around the world.   

Since the then, Art Basel is up and running as before the pandemic. In 2021, Galerie Nagel-Draxler introduced an Art Basel NFT Kiosk, making it the first NFT involvement and paving the way for future NFT events at Art Basel. And in October 2022, Art Basel launches in Paris, France. It is based in the Grand Palais’s temporary venue, the Grand Palais Éphémère, until the Grand Palais is renovated by 2024. 


Basel is located in northern Switzerland bordering Germany and France along the Rhine River. Despite German being the official local language, most locals speak and/or understand Basel German, or Baseldytch as they call it. For example, German’s Natürlich, meaning of course, is Basel’s Nadyrlig. Most of Basel’s residents also speak English and French.  

Art Basel Gallery
Source: Shutterstock  | Photo Contributor: Mia2you 

Another interesting fact about Basel is that its university, built in 1460, is Switzerland’s oldest university. Nowadays, it is ranked one of the Top 90 education institutions worldwide.  

And if you follow tennis, you might be interested in knowing that Roger Federer was born in Basel. Between 2004 and 2018 Federer piled 310 weeks of being world’s number one tennis player. He has retired from professional tennis as of 2022. 

Miami Beach

Located in south Florida, Miami Beach is an island city connected to the nearby mainland by bridges. With a popular nightlife, pristine beaches and a sub-tropical climate, Miami Beach feels like paradise. It didn’t always look like that though. In 1912, Miami Beach used to be a mangrove forest. Growers tried to shape this productive wetland into a coconut plantation unsuccessfully. Maybe most notable from all people involved in this massive project is Carl Fisher, an industrialist from Indianapolis, who transformed it into the tourist resort we know today. This is also where attendees of the fair could see for the first time any NFT at Art Basel Miami Beach. 

Hong Kong

The Fragrant Harbor, literal translation of Hong Kong, is located on the south coast of China. This cosmopolitan city-state intertwines Western and Asian inspiration with a world-class hub of trade, culture and business. Hong Kong’s official name is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, or HKSAR for short. It is still a region of China but one with the highest level of independence, meaning that it has a separate governing and economic systems. It’s interesting that skyscrapers would make anyone instantly think of New York’s skyline, which wouldn’t be wrong. But Hong Kong, followed by Shenzhen, is actually the city with the most skyscrapers in the world with twice as many as in New York, which ranks third place. Whilst there haven’t been any NFT Art Basel events here, this big hub will surely introduce future Art Basel Hong Kong NFT exhibitions and conversations. 

Hong Kong Description
Source: Shutterstock  | Photo Contributor: TungCheung 

‘This is our first time participating in Art Basel in Hong Kong. Shortly after the fair opened, there were already numerous European collectors who expressed strong interest in Taiwanese artist Chen Shun-Chu’s work. The Insights sector was a great platform for us to connect with collectors from all over the world and to help them develop a deeper understanding of the works of Asian artists.’ 

Rose Hsu, Vice General Manager, Beyond Gallery, Taipei 


The newest Art Basel location, and one of the future potential NFT Art Basel events host. One of the best-known cities in Europe, Paris is also known as The City of Light, or La Ville Lumière, if you dare to pronounce that. One theory is that the name comes from the city’s 33 illuminated bridges and over 50,000 streetlights. It comes as no surprise that Art Basel would open its newest location in 2022 in Paris. It is the home of the biggest art gallery and museum in the world, The Louvre. This monument hosts over 38,000 pieces of art, one of which is one of the most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa. 

Art Basel NFT Events

The Art Basel fairs are hosted in different times of the year. Hong Kong in March, Basel in June, Paris in October and Miami Beach in December. They will feature over 250 galleries with more than 4,000 artists from all over the world. Contributing towards an exciting and colorful art week are the following types of events: 

Galleries – Galleries from Europe, Africa, North America, Latin America, and Asia present modern classics and contemporary artists who share the walls with upcoming young artists. 

Conversations – Art Basel features daily conversations between leading members of the international artworld like artists, collectors and critics. These are free and open to the public to attend. 

Unlimited – With a space of 16,000 m2, Unlimited showcases video projections, wall paintings, monumental sculptures, photographic series and performance art. 

Parcours – This is a wider project based in the whole city of Basel. A public art walk around the city. During the 2022 fair, there were 21 projects spread around for visitors to observe. 

Film – First introduced in 2014, the Film sector of Art Basel presents numerous films and videos by different curators. Previous years have screened Stanley Tucci and Filipa César. 

Others – These are not the only events that a fair of such a scale can and will host. The full event programme goes beyond imagination and tells the stories of many artists. 

Art Basel Event Types
Source: Shutterstock | Photo Contributor: Felix Mizioznikov 

Galerie Nagel Draxler from Berlin were the first ones to pave the way for future Art Basel NFT events. They presented the Crypto Kiosk in Art Basel’s 2021 fair. Although a brand-new concept for the monumental event, the gallery from Berlin succeeded in selling some NFT artworks. The main challenge apparently was that the old-fashion curators did not understand that this art can’t just be taken off the wall and handed to them in exchange of cash. But Nagel Daxler were ready to accommodate a normal transaction. They were thus able to buy the artwork from the artist directly from the crypto platform OpenSea. Then give the buyer their art and ownership of it.  

The first NFT ever that sold at ArtBasel was Post-death or The Null Address NFT by artist Olive Allen. This NFT sold for 8 Ethereum (ETH) which then equaled to around €25,000 on opening day. Other NFTs sold for €40,000 and £20,000. 

Also learn about Quantum – The First NFT Ever.

“This year, we presented a solo exhibition of Liu Xiaodong. 22 works on paper were sold, which was a pleasant surprise for us. We met collectors from a wider geographical spread this year; buyers were from Europe, the United States, China, Hong Kong, and many other parts of the world.”

Chao Li, Director, Eslite Gallery, Taipei

A year later, NFTs and Art Basel are joining again for the December 2022 Miami Beach fair. Mario Klingemann, a German artist going by the pseudonym Quasimondo, will present his interactive experience at the Humans + Machines: NFTs and the Ever-Evolving World of Art exhibition. The interactivity behind the experience comes from the fact that attendees will be able to create their own NFTs. The process goes like this: Klingemann creates an Artificial Intelligence portrait of the attendee -> The attendee can use the open-source blockchain Tezos to create an NFT of their AI portrait -> Et Voilà!  

The use of the blockchain Tezos, however, has a big impact on the exhibition itself. Being an energy-efficient blockchain, Tezos aims to leave a significantly lower carbon footprint than competitors. Some of the NFT marketplaces which are part of Tezos’ network are Interpop, Kalamint and OBJKT. What makes them, and Tezos, stand out is the overall method they use. Most NFTs are on the Ethereum blockchain, which uses the Proof of Work (PoW) method of authentication. Meaning, computer systems will use a significant amount of power to solve mathematical puzzles to verify a given transaction. Through Tezos’ Proof of Stake method, a crypto owner pledges their currency to be used to verify transactions. It basically means that the cryptocurrency is being locked up while it’s “staked” and it can be unlocked if needed for transaction. 

A lot of NFT related conversations were covered and recorded at Art Basel in June 2022. Other topics were presented at the Miami Beach 2021 fair including NFTs in the Art World, Navigating the NFT Market and The Political Economy of NFTs. In the upcoming December 2022 Miami Beach Art Basel fair, there will be a session called The Story of NFTs. Because it is a Premium+ Masterclass, only valid Premium+ Cardholders can attend the talk. It will be a conversation between presenter Emily Butler and guests Amy Whitaker and Nora Burnett Abrams. Whitaker is an Associate Professor at NYU. Nora Abrams is a Director in Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The two will present the launching of their book The Story of NFTs and will talk about what NFTs are and how to benefit and/or engage with them

You can also take a look at A Complete Guide on How NFTs Can Benefit Your Business.

Meet Art Basel Artists

Whilst on the topic of NFTs and a more environment-friendly way to generate them, it is worth presenting Memo Akten. Memo is a Turkish digital artist and computer scientist. He is a very climate-conscious crypto artist. The way he practices that is by only generating NFT art through eco-friendly blockchain marketplaces, such as Tezos, which he uses, because of its Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm. Akten has created the installation Distributed Consciousness. There are six collections of different AI-generated NFTs of beautiful but strange octopuses. The collections are called Remember, Mind Control, Bodies, The World, Tech and Time to Act. There are a total of 256 NFTs across all collections.  

Another outstanding concept that Memo Akten has implemented into this work is a poem. On the surface, it is nowhere to be seen. That is because each verse is hidden between pixels only readable by code. By collecting and combining all verses, one receives the complete poem, or as Akten calls it, his manifesto. Similar to the NFTs themselves, each Verse has been written by an AI writing tool, making it very unique and one of a kind. 

Memo Akten is not the only artist who has the visual, ambition and success to be presented at Art Basel’s fairs. Art Basel 2023 is planning to welcome over 4,000 artists. The fact that there will be more Art Basel NFT events in the future makes the diversity between all these artists and their types of works immaculate.  

Nora Turato, for example, is a graphic designer and performance artist from Zagreb, Croatia currently based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Nora’s art is heavily inspired by everyday language and communication, such one that is infected by banality at times. She exposes herself to everyday content that she doesn’t seek but rather meets unwillingly.  

Kara Walker is a black American artist. She portraits the topics of identity, history, heritage, sexuality, archetypes, culture and race in her art. She describes her show A Black Hole Is Everything a Star Longs to Be as a “self-revelation of mini-selves, bumping up against the burdens of being a black woman in America.” The show consists of over 600 drawings created over the past 28 years and was exhibited at the Kunstmuseum Basel from 5th June until 26th September 2021.  

‘Art Basel Hong Kong proves that the Western and the Eastern world grow more and more together, year-by-year. We are very satisfied with the outcome of this year’s edition and clearly benefited from all our artist’s institutional exhibitions in the past year.’

Johann König, Founder, König Galerie, Berlin, London 

With the amount of artist presented each year, Art Basel is doing their best to give them a platform. One such platform could push their art projects out in the world, spread their message around whilst also promoting the important art event itself. One way of doing this is by hosting The Art Basel Podcast. It gathers leading artists, architects, gallerists, designers, musicians and collectors to discuss the art world and their passion for it. A new episode is released every two weeks on their official page or also available on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Another important platform for promoting the attending artists is YouTube, where Art Basel promotes personal videos of some artists on their channel. 

NFT Art Basel – What Is Next?

The Humans + Machines: NFTs and the Ever-Evolving World of Art exhibition in the upcoming December 2022 Miami Beach fair will without a doubt be the biggest of any Art Basel NFT events so far. The fact that attendees can create their own NFTs through an eco-friendly blockchain will surely be a huge incentive to visit and participate. And as we mentioned previously, the Premium+ Masterclass called The Story of NFTs will be another highlight within the Conversations category of the upcoming event. 

Available to attend will also be events which are open to members of specific NFT groups. These are groups like Galaktic Gang, World of Women and Pudgy Penguins. Each of those projects has a limited amount of NFTs, no two of which alike. For example, Galaktic Gang have released 5555 NFTs only, which they brand as trippy avatars. And to be honest, they are these trippy aliens. Each of these projects are actually communities, and if you possess one of their NFTs, then you are in. This means that you gain certain exclusive perks for being a member. One of which is being invited to attend an in-person member-only event at Art Basel.  

“Art Basel Hong Kong continues to be a key fair for galleries from all over the world. What was striking this year was the strong presence of museum directors, curators, and collectors from places like Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, and Korea. The fair, whilst operating in Hong Kong, is also providing an opportunity for visitors to make valuable visits to other cities in the region prior to or after the fair. It feels like the connecting of a region rather than a single fair in a single city. At the same time, the city of Hong Kong seems to be ever expanding in its own cultural presence. The growth of museums and foundations presenting excellent exhibitions alongside the fair is providing a rich experience for visitors coming to Hong Kong, and the expanding local gallery scene in the Aberdeen district is an indication of robust and authentic activity.”

Sadie Coles, Owner, Sadie Coles HQ, London

As of 2020, the majority of art buyers at Art Basel are aged between 40 and 64. Given that NFTs are a fairly new concept, only gaining popularity in 2017, maybe the whole idea of owning a piece of digital art is new and strange to the buyers of this demographic. Surely, there will be even more Art Basel NFT events in the future. Even if one gallery represents several different NFTs by different artists, Art Basel will thus represent an even greater variety of artists than its predicted 4,000 for the 2023 art fair. 

You want more like this? Jump to NFT Gallery – The Future of Presenting Digital Art.

What else we can say:

We hope that you have enjoyed the information on Art Basel and NFT events and the history, locations and artists behind those. Clearly, talking about something we are passionate about could become quite informative and lengthy, so here are the most important outtakes the questions most people will have: