Cofound.it
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CFI · 55w

AMA with Maecenas Co-founder, Marcelo Garcia Casil, Cofound.it's new project

First, the basics …

We are creating a decentralised art gallery, democratising access to fine art investment. In a nutshell, we will have a blockchain-driven platform where shares of fine art are bought and sold. The global art market is huge with an estimated $3 trillion of art value in storage. Investment in art is attractive because it is stable and appreciates long term. But you have to be pretty rich to buy a major artwork. Until now. On the platform, Maecenas divides great artworks into fragments and investors trade those shares. You can own a fragment of an artwork even though you could never afford the whole painting or sculpture.

“It’s just like you buy a share in a company. In a way, Maecenas will be the NASDAQ of fine art investment.” So how does it work?

Naturally, most of the first questions from potential investors in our ICO center around how the platform works. To answer that, look at the process from the perspective of, say, an art gallery and also from someone who wants to own a Picasso but has always been priced out. Right now, selling expensive artworks is far from easy. It is an old-fashioned, illiquid and often opaque market. Galleries typically go through a few reputable auction houses that charge huge fees — up to 25 percent. But now we have galleries lining up to sell their art on the Maecenas platform because they immediately get access to a crowd of investors.

“They can auction their masterpiece through Maecenas, selling fragments of the artwork — and paying much lower fees.”

On the other side, an investor on the platform participates in the auction, acquires a share of the art and can then also trade that share on the platform’s secondary market. And just like that, you have a liquid market for fine art investments.

OK. So how do you create pieces of a Picasso? There is what’s known as an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle), which is often used for alternative assets. The gallery, for example, puts the art ownership in an SPV and owns 100 percent of that vehicle. And then the gallery sells 49 percent of the SPV on the Maecenas platform. The crowd buys shares in this SPV. The beauty of this is that the gallery raises money and still gets to hang the masterpiece in an exhibition. And as the value of the art increases, the gallery and the Maecenas investors see the value of what they own rise. Plus, there will be a leasing fee so that the investors are paid for use of the artwork in the gallery. What artworks will be on Maecenas? We have some great names in the pipeline that will make big headlines. We are also dividing works up into categories. “Investors have a choice to buy into individual artworks or funds that act like indexes for types of art, such as Impressionist and Modern, Contemporary etc.” Any kind of art can be auctioned whether it’s paintings, scupltures or photographs. You can also imagine how the platform in the future could be used for all kinds of valuable and tangible assets such as collectible cars, vintage wine etc.. What is the Maecenas crowdsale? It is obvious that if you have transactions going on on your platform denominated in dollars, euros, bitcoin, ether etc., you need a clearing mechanism to settle the sales. Maecenas will issue a token in its crowdsale that will be the token used for all settlements on the platform. We are calling the token: ART. Now, don’t confuse the ART token with the fragmentisation of the artworks. The ART token is a utility token that is used to settle transactions on the platform. Separately, we are effectively breaking up artworks that are listed on the platform into fragments of artworks that are bought and sold. You can think of this process as the tokenisation of the artwork. But that token is not the ART token. Maecenas aims to become the decentralised Art Gallery | Photo by Juan Di Nella So, I was understandably asked about the intrinsic value of the ART token. First, there will be a one-off fixed supply. And, essentially, because ART will be used for the transactions of the platform, the ART should be worth the market capitalization on the platform — in other words, the total value of the art on the exchange. Now, as ART holders perceive the platform will grow, then the value of the token will rise with those expectations. Markets set a value based on a future projection of what the capitalization will be. “To put it simply, if you participate in the crowdsale and buy an ART token, you will likely see its value go up as the market sees more and more artworks will be traded on the Maecenas exchange.” As a crowdsale token investor you’ll be placing a bet on the success of our platform. The more artworks we have on the platform, the higher the demand for ART tokens. There will be more details to come on the timing and mechanism of the crowdsale. More to come Likewise, we will be releasing more information via a White Paper and blogs on specific elements, such as the legal setup for the listings and ownership. You will find some details dotted in the thread of the slack chat that can be read at https://cofoundit-public.slack.com/messages/C5KCYAL9J/convo/C5KCYAL9J-1500486094.064287/ Plus please join us in our own Maecenas Slack channel where we are eager to answer questions, click here. What’s in a name? Finally, why are we called Maecenas? We coined the name inspired by Gaius Maecenas who is regarded as the patron of the arts. Back in the Roman Empire times, he financed poets out of his own pocket to help them strive and be able to be full time artists. We aim to be a modern patron stimulating the art business. The name is pronounced “My-seen-us”. And I close out, not with my own impressions, but with the words of one of the many engaged Cofound.it community members after the dynamic chat. “I think the main reason why this makes a lot of sense is adding liquidity to art forms. Before, I had to buy whole art.” And if I want to sell it I need to find someone who can match the price which becomes difficult at times I guess. Most projects that I am seeing that have good sense of value is where they bring liquidity to the product. I can sell/buy it in fractions. This wasn’t possible before blockchains. It’s interesting where this whole movement will take economy as a whole. Gaius Maecenas who is regarded as the patron of the arts

If you enjoyed reading this and found our project worthwhile, please take a second to recommend it and share with your friends. Thank you!

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