Galaxy Digital uses historic violin NFT to secure loan


Michael Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital and Animoca Brands co-founder Yat Siu have tokenized a 1708 Stradivarius violin to use as collateral for a multimillion-dollar loan.

On June 4, Galaxy reportedly lent an undisclosed amount of funds to Siu, who used the 316-year-old violin he owned as collateral. The digital assets firm turned the violin into a nonfungible token (NFT) and will hold the NFT and the physical version until Siu settles the loan.

Antique violin called Empress Caterina. Source: Tarisio

While Galaxy and Siu did not share the loan amount, they said it was “in the millions.” A Hong Kong-based custodian will hold the violin until Siu and Galaxy sign off on its removal from their custody.

300-year-old Stradivarius violin

The violin once belonged to the Russian Empress Catherine the Great. According to Tarisio, a musical instrument auction house, they have documented the violin’s provenance, tracing it back over 300 years.

Empress Catherine the Great in 1763. Source: Tarisio

Tarisio reported that the Russian ambassador to Venice procured the violin for Empress Elisabeth Petrovna, who reigned over the Russian Empire from 1741 to 1762.

When she died, the violin was given to her successor, Catherine II, more commonly known as Catherine the Great.

Siu acquired the violin last year in an auction for over $9 million.

Tokenizing assets in lending

Thomas Cowan, Galaxy’s vice president of tokenization, said that the ability to tokenize physical assets might change the situation in crypto lending. Collateral tied to crypto assets is usually very high because of digital asset volatility.

In a Bloomberg interview, Cowan stated that tokenizing physical assets enables them to lend more to their clients, even against volatile assets like Bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH). While today it might be a violin, the executive envisions it could extend to real estate in the future.

Related: Dapper Labs’ $4M settlement reaffirms NBA NFTs aren’t securities: CEO

NFT sales tumble in May

While NFTs are used in physical asset tokenization, digital collectibles witnessed a slump in sales volume. In May, data tracker CryptoSlam showed that sales volume for NFTs dropped by 54% in May.

In April 2024, NFTs recorded a sales volume of over $1 billion, while they only recorded $624 million in May. Leading NFT blockchains Bitcoin, Ethereum and Solana all showed a significant drop in sales.

Magazine: Crypto voters are already disrupting the 2024 election — and it’s set to continue



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