Like most people, Levina Li-Cadman was shocked when Beeple’s The First 5000 Days sold for US$69 million at a Christie’s auction in March last year. “I was floored,” says Li-Cadman. “I just kept thinking: I need to explore this space by buying NFTs and launching NFT-related projects.”
She did exactly that by joining forces with digital art collector Frank Smits to open The MetaArt Club (TMAC), a membership-based organisation which seeks to bridge the gap between collectors and digital artists.
As the co-founder of arts consultancy Arts-Partners, Li-Cadman has helmed several public art projects in Hong Kong, including the Harbour Arts Sculpture Park in 2018, and the Event Horizon installation by Antony Gormley in 2015. Smits is an avid collector and curator of digital art. He lived in Jakarta for 20 years before moving to Hong Kong three years ago, and was surprised to see the city had been comparatively slow to embrace NFTs.
In February 2021, “I began to hear the word NFT on [audio-based social network] Clubhouse,” says Smits, who was instantly hooked. He started connecting with artists through social media and began to build his own collection. “There was a huge gathering of [digital] artists on Clubhouse; they were excited to find a platform [on which] to present themselves and to find a way to become financially relevant. With the blockchain opportunity, they had a lifeline.”