• Every week until October,

    20 Minutes

    tells you how we organized the first sale of a newspaper NFT in France with the house Piasa.

  • In this interview, Pierre Taugourdeau, Deputy Director for Legal Affairs at the Sales Council, explains why French regulations are more difficult than elsewhere on the subject of NFTs.

  • It is possible to organize a public sale of a digital object in France.

Where in France on the ground of the NFT? Behind this acronym hides the non-fungible tokens, virtual objects (tweet, gif, meme, source code ...) with indisputable and inviolable identity, authenticity and traceability thanks to a certificate listed in a blockchain, most often ethereum, also known as the second most important virtual currency after bitcoin. For several months, the crypto-art market has been experiencing a real international boom with completely crazy sales.

While several auction houses have partnered with NFT sales in the United States (Sotheby's for the source code for the Web, Christie's for the work of Beeple), in France, it is not that simple.

Pierre Taugourdeau, deputy director for administrative, financial and legal affairs at the Sales Council, the regulatory authority for the public auctions market, explains why.

Can you say more about the report led by Cyril Barthalois, secretary general of the Académie des Beaux-arts, about NFTs?

The mission, entrusted to Cyril Barthelois, consists in making an inventory of what is being done today and what could be done in the future.

How French artists appropriate the NFTs.

In the second place, it is a question of seeing the problems which this poses at the same time at the technological level and at the practical level.

As the Academy of Fine Arts is linked with the Academy of Sciences, it will be able to involve mathematicians, high-level computer scientists who will have a technical approach to the subject.

And on the legal level, we must see what will be done by contract and the modifications to be made to the regulations in force to allow the development of NFTs in France.

Today, NFTs cannot be sold in France in a public sale, why?

The public auction as it is orchestrated by the auction houses (Piasa, Sotheby's, Christie's, Artcurial, Millon, etc.) can only relate to tangible movable property. And unfortunately, intangibles, such as digital works, NFTs, and copyrights, for example, do not come within the scope of voluntary public auctions. It is a deficiency of the law. In these intangible assets, there are a certain number that are already the subject of special regimes: business assets, company shares, shares, etc. This is the reason why we do not have a text that globally authorizes the voluntary public auction of these intangible assets. At the Sales Council, we are in favor of opening public auctions at NFTs.Proposing new regulations is one of our missions. Unfortunately, it is long, but that is not why it should not be undertaken.

Is there a framework in which we can sell an NFT in France?

We can consider the sale of NFT in galleries.

They are also starting to take an interest in it.

And they are entirely in their role, that of promoting a new form of artistic expression.

Other operators who use auction systems, such as NFT's or eBay's platforms, can also sell NFTs.

What is the point of going through an auction house rather than a gallery?

The auction system is transparent and allows a market price to be set. In the world of contemporary art, auction houses operate in what is called the secondary market, the resale of works of art that have already been promoted by a gallery. The gallery owner highlights artists with whom he has a contract. Rather, the work of auction houses is intended for dissemination in the secondary market. The public auction has the advantage of reaching a larger audience. The sale is published on the Internet, it is advertised through the catalog. Conversely, galleries do not have this capacity to reach out to the public. From time to time, artists offer to go directly to the public auction without having been previously offered by a gallery. About ten years ago,British artist Damien Hirst had organized an auction of works that had not passed on the market. It had caused a lot of talk because it was not the artist's traditional path with regard to the art market.

France differs from other countries on the subject of the sale of NFTs ...

France is the only country to have regulations governing public auctions that are so precise and protective of buyers, thanks to the ethics of auction houses that the Sales Council is responsible for preserving. It's an old tradition that dates back to Henry II, who did not contemplate the NFT, oddly enough. Basically, these public auctions took place in the context of court decisions: divorce, bankruptcy, death, etc. It was a service of justice and the legislators of the time considered that it should be supervised. We remain marked by this original idea. This characteristic could convey the image of a finicky and highly regulated country. We prefer to highlight the fact that we give guarantees to buyers. In England,if you do not show supporting evidence before the judge that the auctioneer knowingly committed a fault in selling you that fake, you end up with the fake on your hands. In France, you will be better protected.

Find our file on NFTs

Is France missing the wave of NFTs?

The wave is for the moment modest.

We'll see if it gets bigger, but it won't swallow up the market.

However, regulations are effectively behind on these public auctions.

Today, already, if we add a tangible good to the sale of NFT, it is possible to put the two together at auction and this has already been done.

We will see if the regulations change in the future.


What if we sold a copy of "20 Minutes", transformed into an NFT, at auction with Piasa?


What are NFTs, the tokens that allow you to buy tweets and works of art on the Internet?

  • Innovation

  • Bitcoin

  • Future (s)

  • Virtual currency

  • Auction

  • NFT

  • Culture