Old Meets New as Czech Royal Family Drops High-Art NFTs

Czech Prince William Rudolf Lobkowicz became interested in NFTs during the pandemic and is launching a collection of works inspired by historic pieces.

Sep 30, 2021 at 8:29 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 1, 2021 at 12:49 a.m. UTC

A Czech royal family that traces its heritage to the 14th century is dabbling in non-fungible tokens (NFT).

The House of Lobkowicz is conducting an NFT drop next month with a goal of “preserving cultural heritage.”

It’s the latest twist in a blockchain phenomenon that has seen everyone from rapper Lil Yachty to fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana join in.

The nonprofit House of Lobkowicz has retained and preserved historic paintings by Pieter Bruegel, Canaletto and Diego Velázquez, as well as hand-annotated musical manuscripts by Wolfgang Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Some of the works and historic pieces will be featured in the upcoming NFT launch.

Czech Prince William Rudolf Lobkowicz, 27, told CoinDesk that during the pandemic he developed digital content and virtual tours that allowed fans to view his family’s cultural heritage from their homes. It was during this time that he became increasingly interested in NFTs.

“We lost 95% of our revenue sources which came from cultural tourism,” Lobkowicz said. “We started with doing a whole bunch of digital activities that included virtual tours such as yoga and historic spaces as a way to get people’s minds off the pandemic. We did something helpful.”

The tech-savvy prince said by holding online tours, the House of Lobkowicz received more virtual visitors in 2020 than it had physical visitors during its busiest year.

Lobkowicz said he will be holding a “Non-Fungible Castle” conference and a weeklong public NFT exhibition hosted at the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague on Oct. 11-16.

The Lobkowicz NFTs will feature historic pieces that tell stories digitally and will include a painting with a hidden story and a musical piece that has been unheard for 250 years. That piece was composed by Anna Maria Wilhelmina Althann, the wife of Philipp Hyacinth, who was a prince during the 16th century.

Another NFT will feature a painting by Paolo Veronese revealing a hidden detail discovered through X-ray imagery. There will also be an animation of 16th-century sgraffito, a decorative form, from the façade of Nelahozeves Castle, decaying and restoring over time.

Lobkowicz said his family spent more than 600 years collecting art and supporting the field, and he stressed this “new technology” is not just about displaying and buying digital art but is an experiment to see if “NFTs and their underlying technology will retain value for centuries.”

Lobkowicz said digital art has many advantages over physical art. For example, it can travel around the world in an instant, unlike the family collections that can’t be sold or leave the country without permission from a central governmental authority.

“NFTs can potentially offer cultural institutions a new patronage model,” Lobkowicz said, adding:

“By investing in an NFT, a patron receives ownership of a unique digital asset, while also directly supporting conservation efforts or other important cultural initiatives.”

DISCLOSURE

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Tanzeel Akhtar is a CoinDesk news reporter based in Europe.