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First artist to accept Bitcoin

The artist who came from nowhere to be one of the leading artists of his generation, the artist Sir Michael Caine described as “the next Andy Warhol”, has just become the first artist in the world to accept Bitcoin as payment for his work.

Known globally for his original oils and Icons, the two elements of his work that unite around themes of risk, consumption and creativity, Lincoln Townley is a natural disruptor. Although he is now a global figure in his own right with a network of powerful and influential buyers, he struggled for recognition from traditional art institutions. Rather than play by their rules, he decided to create his own art market and succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations.

He says: “To create my own art market meant believing that the value of my work was not going to be determined by the art establishment. If I was going to succeed, it was going to be by breaking boundaries, by refusing to accept what other people told me was possible.”

Townley’s affinity for Bitcoin is visceral. Its decentralised peer-to-peer network and resistance to any form of censorship mirror his own attitude to art: a currency that doesn’t need a bank to guarantee its value is a perfect medium for an artist whose doesn’t need an Academy to sanction the value of his work.

“My buyers,” Townley says, “are highly successful, creative people. They have a natural affinity with the essence of my work, which is to find a limit and push beyond it. Buying art with cryptocurrency is as natural to them as it is to me.”

Like the Icons he paints, Townley is always gambling on fluid, unpredictable futures and if there was ever going to be an artist willing to challenge the way works of art are bought and sold, it was Lincoln Townley.

And now he’s done it.

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