Hollywood, California is obviously no stranger to cutting-edge nightlife. So when the Dream Hotel opened in this famously vibrant section of Los Angeles five years ago, it needed to come correct. This took the form of diverse lounge and leisure options accompanying its 178 stylish guest rooms. The energy runs from a modern and verdant lobby through the marquee food and dining and up onto a 11,000-square-foot rooftop lounge, suspended between skyline and Hollywood Hills. Beauty & Essex as well as Tao Asian Bistro—two well-known commodities at the convergence of fine-dining and nightlife—both operate expansive outposts here.
But in this hype-heavy part of town, it’s never enough to just rest on your laurels. To stay relevant you need to keep up with the latest trends. Whatever is capturing the imagination at the moment, a true Hollywood hotspot ought to be on top of it—often times this involves a finger on the pulse of art or technology. In the case of the Dream’s latest exhibit—it means both. The Crypt Gallery is the hotel’s newest addition: one of the city’s first collections of NFT art that’s completely open to the public. Later this season it will pop up at the hotel chain’s New York location, Dream Downtown.
If you’re not entirely familiar with the concept, built around “non-fungible tokens”, you certainly are not alone. And this particular exhibit is designed to be informative in that regard. Educational plagues peppered across the walls of the space explain the basics of NFT art; how it is created, sold, and re-sold. QR codes on display link to additional information available on related websites while you’re exploring the space.
But the best way to get answers is to go directly to the source. So we sat down with the collector responsible for The Crypt Gallery. In an exclusive interview with Forbes, Athanasios Polihronopoylos—who goes by the moniker “The King Of Midtown”—helps us better understand NFT art and why it works so well in a hip Hollywood hotel.
Why are NFTs in such high demand right now?
There’s a lot to unpack and address with that question. I just want to start off by saying, this is just the beginning. In terms of what people are discovering with NFTs and their capabilities, there is a huge connection to DeFi (Decentralized Finance). NFTs tie into multiple components including authenticity, creators independently working for themselves, the discovery of new art forms, and finding a supportive community that continues to grow. NFTs are a revolution. It is only a matter of time before everyone realizes it.
Did the circumstances of the pandemic help drive movement in this sector?
I believe COVID definitely influenced the growth of the digital art market, at least for myself and many others while in lockdown. That being said, NFTs are not just a temporary craze. As larger brands and corporations, like Visa get involved, as well as celebrities and fine art auction houses, the mainstream is starting to hear more and more about NFTs. Institutions, such as banks, once opposed cryptocurrencies, but after seeing the momentum and scale of this movement, they are now jumping in. The same applies to NFTs. Major fine art collectors are now transitioning into purchasing digital art pieces, famous physical artists are producing digital assets to pair with their works, fashion, sports and the music industry are all entering the space. We are witnessing a modern day Renaissance, one which involves cryptocurrency, blockchains and NFTs. And the artists dedicating their time and talent to the space are becoming the new celebrities.
But why is a hotel an appropriate space for an NFT exhibit?
The hospitality industry seemed like the perfect location for this type of project. Not only do hotels offer high exposure, but they also provide a fun ambiance to hang out and spend time in. Compared to traditional art galleries with white walls and classic presentations, high-end hotels create an ideal environment to house The Crypt Gallery. Aside from the atmosphere, hotels also provide a high volume of rotating guests, many of them international and visiting for a variety of reasons. This was key in trying to educate and bring NFTs to the mainstream. A hotel’s reach also reflects the global scale of NFTs. Whether it be tourists, business travelers or meetings attendees, the exposure provided in hotels is hard to duplicate elsewhere.
How does the aesthetic of the Dream Hotel, in particular, tie in with this avant-garde medium?
Dream Hotel Group was the hospitality brand that instantly came to mind when envisioning The Crypt Gallery. Each of their properties is unique in terms of architecture and design, yet the emphasis placed on the arts is obvious in all locations. Dream Hollywood has always been known as a trendsetter and one of the most popular spots in LA. The well designed lobby space creates an ambiance people gravitate towards and want to hang out in. The restaurant scene, rooftop and constant events happening on property just add to the fact that everyone wants to be here. Overall, Dream just provides the perfect physical space to house this innovative and rare exhibition. I mean, the name itself speaks on their creativity and self-expression… They helped bring our dream to life.