Verse, the new NFT platform connecting collectors with top artists, is collaborating with twelve leading artists, curators, and creative tastemakers – including artist Simon Denny, artist David Shrigley, Noah Davis, Elena Soboleva, and artist Tyler Hobbs – to launch its first selling exhibition, led by Verse’s newly appointed Head of Exhibitions Leyla Fakhr, former Tate curator and art advisor. The launch follows a seed raise of $2.4 million from notable angels including Paul Forster (Indeed.com), Ben Stephenson (Impala), Michael Daffey (Galaxy Digital), Jeremy Hindle (Integrity), Nick Shekerdemian (The Venture Collective) and Venrex VC.
Verse was created in response to the lack of trusted sources for collectors to find NFTs by the top artists working today. With Verse, collectors can discover and acquire NFT artworks that have been hand selected by trusted and reputable curators, including internationally-recognised galleries, institutional curators, experienced NFT collectors, art experts, and other tastemakers across the arts, culture, and NFT spaces. An alternative to the incumbent platforms with an overwhelming sea of options that deter many new collectors, Verse releases NFTs in focused exhibitions that give leading artists the spotlight and create a dynamic experience for discovering new work. Offerings reflect a wide range of price points, making Verse a resource for every kind of collector, including everyday enthusiasts of digital art.
Verse also addresses the technical challenges faced by both collectors and artists in the NFT space through its simple, user-friendly interface that allows the purchase of NFTs with fiat, as well as crypto, and without the need for a third-party crypto wallet. Committed to sustainability, Verse’s state-of-the-art technology allows the processing of secondary market trades without the need to process blockchain transactions, resulting in low carbon emissions for trades within the platform.
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For both artists and curators working with Verse, such as galleries, art fairs, and other artist representatives, Verse bridges the gap between the traditional art world and the NFT space – a gap that has limited the number of leading artists entering the space thus far and denied collectors access to their work in NFT format. Verse provides these artists and curators support with the technical expertise they need, as well as a deep understanding of both the NFT space and traditional art world, to enable them to create and launch new works and leverage the enormous and growing audience for NFT artworks.
Verse is co-founded by CEO Jamie Gourlay and CTO Augustinas Malinauskas. Gourlay brings to Verse more than a decade of experience in the art world, as co-founder of 10 Hanover, the private advisory dealing in blue chip works by Picasso, Warhol, and other major artists, and as founder of Queen’s Fine Art, a storage and logistics company that services the top auction houses and galleries around the world, including Sotheby’s and Gagosian. Malinauskas is a physicist-turned-technologist who holds a Masters in Part III Mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Theoretical Particle Physics from the University of Oxford.
Reflecting its commitment to offering high quality NFT artworks, Verse has appointed former Tate curator and art advisor Leyla Fakhr as Head of Exhibition Programming to spearhead collaborations with the Verse curators who hand-select each exhibition. The London-based team of 13 also includes Ralph Lopes, a prolific NFT collector; Mimi Nguyen, leader of the Mana Lab blockchain research group at the Imperial College London; and a range of blockchain, software, and security engineers.
Jamie Gourlay, Verse co-founder and CEO, said: “The art NFT landscape is a minefield for many of the world’s top artists, and it’s not much easier for new collectors. The incumbent NFT platforms make it difficult for the most exciting artworks to get the attention they deserve and for collectors to ensure they’re purchasing from reputable and secure sources. We’re providing a space where people with deep understandings of art and NFTs – from galleries, to critics, to collectors, and even artists – can showcase exhibitions of NFT artworks. Verse makes it easier for both new and experienced collectors to access people who really know their stuff – helping them identify great works and avoid being stung on dodgy NFTs.
“For artists, just as in the traditional art world, marketing and selling NFTs is a huge job and requires specialist knowledge and skills. It’s unlikely the world’s best digital artists will rise to the top if they also have to be world-class at web3 marketing in order to do so. We’re therefore helping artists join forces with people who really get it, leaving the artist to do what they do best – create amazing works!”
Verse investor Paul Forster said: “I am delighted to be an investor in Verse and looking forward to seeing some of the most important cultural artefacts being created in the digital realm and made accessible to collectors who aren’t on the Art Basel VIP list!”