Damien Hirst, reputedly the wealthiest living artist in the UK, plans to burn hundreds of his works as part of “The Currency,” a one-year non-fungible token (NFT) initiative.
The NFT version was preferred by nearly half of the purchasers of Hirst’s “The Currency” collection.
Visitors to Hirst’s private London museum will be able to see some of his 10,000 oil paintings of distinctive dots that he created in 2016 and connected to NFTs in 2021 starting in September.
The $2,000 floor-priced NFTs offered buyers the choice of keeping the token or exchanging it for the actual picture. In the event that someone decides to keep the NFT version, the original artwork will be burned.
Nearly half of the collectors—4,851—decided to have their paintings burnt for digital edition NFTs before the deadline of July 27. Meanwhile, 5,149 collectors chose to exchange their NFTs for physical copies.
The artwork will be burned every day from September 9 to the end of the event, when it will be closed during the London Frieze Week event and the last artworks will be burned. The 57-year-old artist said the following in response to the verdict on Wednesday:
“I believe in art and art in all its forms but in the end I thought f**k it! this zone is so f**king exciting and the one I know least about and I love this NFT community it blows my mind.”
The project “touches on the concept of art as a currency and a store of wealth,” Hirst previously told The Art Newspaper.
Heni, an NFT marketplace, handled both the initial transaction and subsequent secondhand resales. Heni claims that when the project began in August and September of 2021, revenues spiked. On August 15, The Currency rose to the top of the OpenSea NFT rankings. However, because of the recent collapse of the crypto market as a whole, volumes have decreased.
A piece may be purchased for as much as $176,779, with the typical bidder shelling out $21,078. The collection has now sold a total of $89.3 million worth of pieces after the most recent sale on July 28 for $8,708 USDC.
Hirst said in a statement that “I still don’t know what I’m doing, and I have no idea what the future holds, whether the NFTs or physicals are going to be more valuable or less,” adding that even after one year, he felt “the journey was just beginning.”
With a net worth of more than $380 million, Damien Hirst was recognized as the wealthiest artist in the UK in 2020.