Talk: Web3 and the Future of Art Patronage


Join Sylvain Levy, Whale Shark and Sydney Xiong in this online panel discussion – moderated by J.J. Charlesworth

Digital art has long been undervalued, while reproducibility has brought about a fundamental shift in how people collect and consume art. While NFTs have greatly reduced the barriers to entry, creating new communities of collectors, the artworld’s system of patronage remains the same and art collectors continue to play an important role in validating artists in the crypto space.

Meanwhile, blockchain innovation allows individuals to move beyond simply collecting artworks to supporting artists in various ways – through contract interaction and resale royalties for example. In this talk we explore the possibilities and pitfalls facing the collectors and institutions setting out to collect and commission NFTs. What will patronage mean in the context of decentralisation?

This is the last in a series of discussions jointly developed and hosted between ArtReview and APENFT Foundation.

Venue: Zoom
Date: 17 November
Time: 5pm GMT


Sylvain Levy, Founder of DSL Collection
WhaleShark, Collector; Founder of WHALE and E1337
Sydney Xiong, Director, APENFT and Secretary General, Art Dream Fund
J.J. Charlesworth, Editor at ArtReview (moderator)

About the panellists:

The pseudonymous figure known as WhaleShark is known as the largest collector of NFTs in the world. With over 400,000 NFTs collected since 2019, WhaleShark had also been an early investor in Crypto (2012), DeFi (2017) and many other areas of Web3. His investment portfolio includes tokens, NFTs and equity in some of the Web3 household name projects, creatives and creators. In 2020, WhaleShark started WHALE, which quickly became the largest social token backed NFT community in the world. Today, WHALE has over 25,000 members focusing on a more sophisticated conversation around NFTs and digital art and culture. In 2021, WhaleShark launched the world’s first luxury e-sports inspired wearable brand, E1337 (pronounced Elite). The brand currently manufactures and distributes both physical and digital wearables and is the leading sponsor for the two largest professional e-sports teams in blockchain gaming.

Sydney Xiong is a professional art consultant and writer, specialising in collection management and art evaluation of post-war and contemporary art. Since her appointment as director of APENFT, she initiated Art Dream Fund, curated major NFT show Digital Wanderlust in China, launched APENFT Marketplace backed by the TRON, led the team to make investments in more than 30 NFT and metaverse projects. She has been interviewed and featured in Artnet, the New York TimesWhitewall and has participated in many internationally renowned forums, such as the TIME Roundtable ‘Uncovering the Mystery of NFTs’, among others.

Sylvain Levy and Dominique Levy founded dslcollection in 2005 as an ongoing cultural and entrepreneurial project that embodies a family adventure and a collection of art and science. At its heart, it is a collection dedicated to Chinese contemporary art. From the very beginning of setting up the collection, the founders wanted to establish a model that would make collecting art continuously active and meaningful, always moving with the shifting times. This collection follows an interactive and participatory approach, redefining the traditional relationships between art and its audience, deconsecrating the public’s approach to art, avoiding any intimidation, and countering the notion of art as elitist. In 2012, dslcollection built a museum on Second Life, and was among the first private collections to build a VR museum in 2016. Most recently, dslcollection has embarked on several innovative projects to adapt to the dramatic changes that have taken place in social interactions and communications worldwide since the pandemic, premised on a holistic approach by simultaneously having projects in video games, virtual reality and the metaverse.

About APENFT Foundation:

Formally registered and established on 29 March 2021, APENFT is backed by the underlying technology of blockchains Ethereum and TRON with support from the world’s largest distributed storage system Bittorrent File System (BTFS) to deliver the mission of registering world-class artworks as NFTs on the blockchain. The collection of the APENFT Foundation includes artworks by Picasso, Andy Warhol, and crypto-artists Beeple, Pak, as well as other high-end NFT collectibles of various categories such as Punks avatars and EtherRock, with a total value of more than $46 million. APENFT Foundation has successfully sponsored the ‘Art + Technology’ Summit at Christie’s in New York. In the future, it will curate a series of online and offline exhibitions with world-renowned artists and facilitate high-end IP collaboration.

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