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  • Writer's pictureNicole Ruskell

Cannes first city to launch branded NFT landmarks

Another world premiere for the city of Cannes as they auctioned off 10 NFT landmarks, moving the Metaverse forward for business, tourism and community.

NFT of Palm Beach on the Pointe Croisette © I MET MY NFT

On 21 June, #Cannes made history at the Capitainerie in Port Canto. At 7 pm, the city auctioned off the world’s first collection of #NFT landmarks and tourist destinations branded by a city, with plans to turn the NFTs into public cultural spaces in the #Metaverse. As a brand, Cannes Côte d'Azur chose the auction date specifically during the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, a nod to the annual awards festival for brand advertising and marketing.

It wasn’t long ago that Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) were a new concept, often a simple, digital icon or ‘coin’ acting as a tool for investment in the blockchain. Now, NFTs are the rising stars for investors, taking the shape of large artworks, custom music and even tattoo designs. But Cannes is pushing the boundaries of NFTs even further. A first in the world, Cannes, as a brand, is digitizing its top attractions not only for private ownership but also to offer these sites to be visited by everyone in the world, from the comfort of their own home.

Just a few weeks ago, at a small talk on a side stage during the 1st World AI Festival of Cannes, the city revealed to the public this absolutely ground-breaking project.

Charles-Henri Puaux, Founder and Director of Pertimm, the company 'building' the NFTs, explained to the audience how the landmarks would be created for investors, auctioned off during Cannes Lions and, hopefully, turned into public spaces on a Metaverse platform. “This is a world premiere. There is no other city in the world who has put their brand and their asset into the Metaverse,” assures Charles-Henri.

The response was mixed at the AI festival - some fully grasped the enormity of the project and others, blinked at the screen, confounded by an innate reliance on the physical. Similar to the debut of the Internet, this non-tangible universe is a tough concept for many, author included. But for Charles-Henri, it’s the future of investment and the future of tourism - and it’s only getting started.

“This is a world premiere. There is no other city in the world who has put their brand and their asset into the Metaverse,”

The inexhaustible Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, is the driving force behind all the ambitious, ground-breaking projects of the city. He was quick to grasp the changing future of tourism and pushed to get this project completed. He stated why this project is important:

“Cannes is a leading tourist destination thanks to its international events, but also its emblematic sites, its landscapes, its Côte d'Azur climate and its lifestyle. Every year, more than three million visitors from all over the world come here. Today, Cannes is taking a new turn to promote its heritage beyond all borders.”

The landmark NFTs

The 11 sites transformed into NFTs are the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes, the Boulevard de la Croisette, the new Port Canto, Sainte-Marguerite island (including Fort Royal), the Jason Decaires Taylor marine ecomuseum, the Malmaison Art Centre, the Old Port, Forville Market, the historic Suquet neighbourhood (where the Cannes sign is illuminated over the city), the Pointe Croisette with Palm Beach and the new Georges Méliès Campus (which is going to a Cannes resident).

From the top left: The Malmaison Art Centre, the church at the Suquet, the Palais des Festivals et Congrès, the Jason De Cairnes marine ecomuseum, Theatre Lumière in the Palais des Festivals, the Old Port of Cannes.

All images © I Met My NFT, courtesy of the Ville de Cannes.

To achieve this model of a virtual representation of Cannois landmarks, Pertimm has designed both the NFTs and their corresponding Smart Contracts to be fool-proof and mischief-proof. The purchase of the NFT binds the buyer to contractual responsibilities. After all, these sites will be flying the Cannes flag. An example given at the AI festival talk was that if one of the sites were to host ‘nefarious behaviour’ the contract would void itself. So don’t get any ideas of a Palais du Porn!

Pertimm has guaranteed these safety clauses in order to obtain the authorization to use the Cannes Côte d'Azur brand. This contract will provide royalties for Cannes, an important arrangement for ongoing city revenue. Additionally, 10% of the initial sales for the NFTs will be donated to the Cannes Endowment Fund for specific environmental projects within the city.

In order to combine digital and physical experience, purchasers will receive a 3D reproduction of the Cannes site as a complement to the virtual purchase. A digital display of the sites will also be presented to the public during a free drone show at the Pyrotechnic Art Festival this summer.

A free NFT to a lucky resident

NFT du Campus Georges Méliès © I Met My NFT

Mayor David Lisnard always incorporates the community in city projects and major events. For him, it is of utmost importance that the people who live in the city are included in the city’s progress. For this project, they decided to give an entire NFT site to a local resident.

In response to the idea that one of Pertimm's designs would just be given to a Cannes resident, Charles-Henri replied: “That’s what I love about Cannes, it’s so shareable. In all the events, there is always a part for the Cannes population. It’s in the DNA of Cannes.”

Residents were able to enter the drawing from 9 - 17 June (with proof of residency) and the winner was drawn at random on 20 June, watched over by a judicial officer. The lucky winner received the NFT of the new Georges Méliès Campus for their personal ownership. Considering the campus is an important new addition to Cannes' creative industries, that’s one lucky resident!

What's to come

For now, the NFT sites are being sold as private investments, but the winning bidders will have the option to develop them into public spaces on a Metaverse platform of their choice. For the city, the ideal buyer is a corporation or organization that would benefit from the visibility and notoriety of a cultural centre or tourist destination.

NFT of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes © I Met my NFT
“If you build it, they will come.”

Imagine entering the emblematic Palais des Festivals in the Metaverse, home to the famous Cannes Film Festival, and attending multiple film festivals—not just Festival de Cannes, but also the Venice Film Festival, or the Berlin film festival. Cannes is Europe’s cinema city and they envision a buyer like Netflix, for example, who could run the virtual Palais des Festivals as their own Metaverse of cinema and streaming. A virtual museum and meeting space for film and television professionals worldwide.

If Louis Armstrong’s moonwalk was a giant leap for mankind, this is a giant leap for the Metaverse.

So far, this ground-breaking development has stayed below the radar. Even when pitched to WIRED magazine, editors didn’t find it a ‘good fit’ for their readers. Nevertheless, the Metaverse is growing... quietly. Perhaps the image of techies in t-shirts and jeans clumsily walking into walls with their VR goggles isn’t quite as Instagramable as red-carpet gowns. However, the public will eventually catch up and as the famous line from the film “Field of Dreams” goes: “If you build it, they will come.”

The ArtCurial Auction

Arnaud Oliveux of Artcurial © Mairie de Cannes

For the history-making auction, Cannes signed with ArtCurial, an exclusive auction house in Paris and Monaco. Atop the Capinainerie of Port Canto, with super yachts and the coast of Cannes as a backdrop, Arnaud Oliveux started the auction at 6 pm on 21 June.

Opening bids for the landmarks started at 10,000 Eur and the highlights were the Palais des Festivals et Congrès which sold for €65,600 (after fees) and the Boulevard de la Croisette which auctioneer Mr Oliveux enticed buyers by saying: "Imagine, this bare Croisette that can be exploited with phantasmagorical buildings!" It wound up selling for €45,000. In total, the NFTs sold for €331,936 (after fees) which will provide a nice chunk of change for the Cannes Endowment Fund, getting 10% for environmental initiatives for the city.

Art Curial’s programme and auction details are available on their platform, titled: I Met My NFT In Cannes.

Throwing down the gauntlet

NFT of the Suquet neighbourhood in Cannes © I Met my NFT

Everyone involved in this ambitious project was very excited about the potential and while the auction result was a success, when the final gavel fell there was a bit of disappointment in the air.

Despite the lacklustre response to Cannes' trailblazing entry to the Metaverse, the important trail has been blazed. New concepts, especially ones that are hard for people to wrap their heads around, are slow to take off. One of the auction attendees, Olivier Cordoleani, a true veteran of the digital world who describes his career as "surfing the tide of the digital revolution", thinks we are still in the "tokenisation" phase of the Metaverse and that society has at least another decade before virtual reality is a common concept. He also thinks VR goggles are a bulky interim device and connected contact lenses with augmented reality is really where we are going.

Another NFT expert present was "Mr No ID", founder of La Meta Factory, the first NFT art gallery in France (read the article here). He told Bon Vivant Mag that it's still a bit early for the public to grasp the concept.

For now, the city of Cannes and Pertimm have thrown down the gauntlet. We shall see what develops with these sites, if they become public on the Metaverse and if momentum builds for the attractiveness of creating "phantasmagorical" cultural centres in Cannes.

-Nicole Ruskell





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