The gblsts interview (part 1): From Basquiats in his bedroom to Mr. Misang

Gabriel Santos’s pfp ‘Ghost #3928‘ by Mr. Misang

“I got a glimpse of this new future”: In an exclusive two-part interview, collector gblsts explains why NFTs have set the art world on fire.

Gblsts is a tech entrepreneur, 2nd-gen art collector, curator and art advisor. His life-long passion for art started with Basquiats on the wall of his childhood bedroom and has recently been rekindled by NFTs.

We caught up with gblsts to find out how his collaborations with NFT artists are moving his art collecting legacy into new dimensions.

At the water mill by witolszewski (detail) – from the gblsts collection

Who is gblsts?

I’m from Monterrey, Mexico. I am a collector, consultant and promoter. Curating is one of my passions; it’s why I’m here.

I come from a technical business background. When I started doing business, it was in the digital realm. And that was more than 15 years ago.

In 2017, my company and I started dealing in crypto. That’s when I first got a glimpse of this new future. The first portfolio we bought went really, really high for the next couple of months. And then it went to the floor for the next three years. So although that wasn’t a good deal, it connected us to the blockchain, Web3 and decentralized philosophy.

The Wild Within – “Hollow” by Ryan Koopmans – from the gblsts collection

From speculation to decentralized philosophy

I’d started in crypto as speculation, business-wise, but slowly – and this is why it got interesting – I started getting into the decentralized philosophy and why it is needed in today’s world.

Fast-forward to March 2021: I was buying some Dogecoin. I kept buying crypto even though our portfolio went to the floor. Then I read this article on NFTs and everything changed for me. My biggest passions had come together.

I felt the energy around NFTs and this whole new industry.

The Upward by fabiogiampietro (detail) – from the gblsts collection

Born surrounded by art

My mom was a prominent art collector here in Mexico. So I was born surrounded by art. When I came along, my mom had already started collecting. She had an incredible eye for choosing and identifying talent. In some cases the talent was already solidified. But in many others, they were up and coming. Some greats passed through her collection, like Frida Kahlo. 

An eye for art and aesthetics

Recently, a Frida Kahlo sold that broke records. That same piece was in my parents’ living room for years, although my mother sold it a long time ago. At one point my mother bought three Jean-Michel Basquiats as a lot, for around $800,000. Now they go for around $100 million each.

I have a different taste, but I got some of my mom’s eye for art. Even though I did not receive a formal art education, my house was constantly being curated. There were always all these different artists coming and going, and that really helped me develop my own sense of aesthetics.

That unique Basquiat feeling

The first time I saw a Basquiat, in my parents’ home, I told my mom that I felt something very unique. At this point, I had already seen greats like Tamayo and Kahlo, huge, contemporary, Latin American artists. 

But when I saw Basquiat for the first time, there was a very distinct feeling. I told my mom, “Please put this artist as close to my room as possible.” And for some years, I had two Basquiats in my bedroom. I was pretty lucky in that way. 

Unfortunately, my parents turned to other business ventures and sold their art collection at the wrong time. Of course, they let go of the most liquid pieces first: the Basquiats, the Kahlo and Tamayo. The pieces that are now worth millions. 

Ante Megalopolis by benjaminbardou – from the gblsts collection

Art meets the business world

As a kid, however, art wasn’t interesting as a career for me. I think a lot of kids around the world gravitate toward business, at least we do here in Mexico. We’re expected to grow up to be the breadwinners, so we get pushed towards the business world. 

I started collecting art myself because I was able to build a successful technology business first. The art world is a dangerous initial business venture. If you invest a lot of money and you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s likely you’re not gonna see any returns.

My first NFT romance with Mr Misang

I’ve already hit upon some pretty promising artists as a collector. Mr Misang wasn’t the first piece I ever bought, but it was my first NFT romance. At the beginning, his work is kind of hidden. You don’t really see it until you open it and you hear the audio, and you really start looking at all the intricacies. 

With Mr Misang’s work, I feel the same thing I felt with Basquiat. I think he’s gonna hit pretty big in the world of NFTs.

I’m now intent on proving my eye for finding more great talents. Camilo Restrepo, Jake Fried, Fauves, Dax Norman and Harry Pack are all contemporary greats I deeply connect to and I’m excited to be now working with.

Return tomorrow for Part 2 as we take a deeper dive into gblsts’s artist recommendations.

#03. Way to work by Mr Misang (detail) – from the gblsts collection

Follow the NFT artists & collectors Gabriel mentions here:


For more on gblsts’s work and collection, follow @gblsts. For regular collector events, invitations and previews follow Orica on twitter or subscribe to our mailing list below.

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