Luxury condo in Miami is first to offer NFT with unit

You don’t have to wait for Miami’s next crypto convention to get into NFTs. You could just buy a condo.

Lofty Brickell, a luxury condominum building scheduled to open in 2024, is the first in the world to commission and advertise an NFT art collection that gifts each condo buyer with an original NFT of a Miami-based artist’s work. The building, created by Newgard Development Group, will display digital NFT artwork in common areas and in each owner’s unit.

The NFT collection launches with artwork by Miami-based, multi-disciplinary artist Carlos Betancourt, whose work has been featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, and the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico. The art program, a collaboration with New York art consultancy Indiewalls, plans to work with more Miami-based artists in the future.

Harvey Hernandez, the CEO of Newgard Development Group, said Lofty aims to celebrate the best artists the city has to offer.

“Luckily for us, we are in a city where that type of talent is abundant,” Hernandez said. “It’s really, really cool. Miami has transformed itself into a hub for talent. ”

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Re-Collections VIII (red) by Carlos Betancourt, a renowned multidisciplinary artist based in Miami. Betancourt worked with Lofty Brickell, a flexible ownership condo building, to create its NFT art collection. An original NFT comes with the purchase of a unit. Re-Collection Series by Carlos Betancourt

Though construction hasn’t even started yet, that hasn’t stopped eager clients from snatching most of the units when they went on sale in January. The building’s plans are big, shiny and high-tech: The 44-story tower will include fully-furnished residencies and panoramic views of Miami’s skyline. (A not-so-modest studio starts at $ 585,000, while a two-bedroom unit costs over $ 1 million.)

The building is Brickell’s first condo specifically made for flexible ownership, Hernandez said. This means buyers are able to easily share or monetize their unit as a short-term rental when they’re not using it, similar to Airbnb.

Newgard found success in Natiivo, a ready-to-rent condo building currently under construction in downtown Miami. Units there have already sold out, Hernandez said, signaling a high demand for flexible condo ownership. When developers began planning Lofty, Hernandez said they wanted to take a different approach to the building’s art.

“We wanted to find a way that we can bridge the gap between analog and digital, and that’s how the aha moment came to us,” Hernandez said.

Lofty’s NFT art program is part of a larger crypto trend taking over Miami’s financial and art hubs. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez dubbed April Miami Tech Month, which included Miami NFT Week, the Miami Beach Bitcoin conference and the unveiling of the robotic (and mildly controversial) Miami Bull statue. Even the Miami Herald has its own NFT art collection featuring local artists.

NFTs provide Betancourt a platform to display his art in a way he’s always dreamed of: animated.

Lofty’s premier NFT collection is part of Betancourt’s famed Re-Collections, a series of works that focus on memory and culture. At first glance, the original, physical works look like sudden bursts of color suspended in time or a mandala of patterns repeating in a circle. On a closer look, the burst is actually a bunch of objects, like flowers and toys.

When Lofty approached Betancourt about the idea to do an NFT collection, he said he was immediately on board. He said the experience with Lofty reminded him of the Renaissance period, when architects would work with artists on projects from the start, not as an afterthought.

Betancourt worked with animator Milly Cohen to turn his static works into spiraling bursts of objects. Before NFTs were popularized, displaying animated art pieces in museums was cumbersome, Betancourt said. Now, the platform allows for his work to be brought to life and displayed anywhere, from a luxury condo unit to a cellphone.

“For me, it kind of completes this journey of some of my work that was screaming to be translated into an animation to finish the story,” Betancourt said.

Betancourt said he was especially excited to be part of the first NFT commission for condo building. For him, it’s part of his legacy.

“Artists thrive on new platforms and new adventures,” he said. “And being the first is exactly that, it’s new territory.”

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A rendering of Lofty Brickell, a luxury condo tower currently under construction. It will be completed in 2024. Brickell Lofts

This story was produced with financial support from The Pérez Family Foundation, in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The Miami Herald maintains full editorial control of this work.

This story was originally published April 21, 2022 1:36 PM.

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