Damien Hirst will burn thousands of paintings for a new project

This article was originally published Art newspapereditorial partner of CNN Style.
This project was always destined to turn into a puff of smoke, at least in part. And now British artist Damien Hirst has announced that he will burn thousands of his paintings in his London gallery as part of his year-long NFT project, loudly titled “Currency”.
From September 9th, visitors to the privately owned Hirst Museum Newport Street Gallery will have the opportunity to view some of the 10,000 oil-on-paper paintings the artist created in 2016 and then associated with the respective NFTs in 2021.
Buyers who purchased one of the 10,000 NFTs priced at $2,000 each were asked to choose whether to keep it or trade it for physical work. If the former, then the painting will now be exhibited before it is burned. Works must be destroyed daily during the show, culminating in the closing event during frieze week in October, when the remaining paintings will be burned.

Last year, Hirst released NFTs on 10,000 of his “dot” paintings. Credit: Courtesy of Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

At press time, with less than a day left to make a decision, 4,751 people have traded their NFTs for physical work, and 5,249 buyers intend to keep their NFTs.

Calling the project his “most exciting to date,” Hirst told The Art Newspaper in March that it “touches on the idea of ​​art as a currency and a store of value.” He added: “This project explores the boundaries of art and currency – where art changes and becomes currency and currency becomes art. It is no coincidence that the government uses art on coins and banknotes. They do this to help us believe in money. Without art, it’s hard for us to believe in anything.”

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Of course, Hearst used the market as his vehicle for decades. In 2007, he created the sculpture “For the Love of God”, consisting of an 18th-century platinum cast of an 18th-century human skull, encrusted with 8,601 diamonds. In a move that preceded the current trend of art tokenization, the work was sold in August 2007 (for £50 million, and then around $100 million, Hurst claimed) to a consortium that included the artist himself.

In 2008, during the week that the Lehman Brothers bank collapsed and the global economy collapsed, Hirst sold 218 works directly from his studio through Sotheby’s for £111 million (then over $200 million). Not only was this event unprecedented in scope and ambition, it also eliminated the gallery middleman and ultimately flooded the Hearst Market, which never truly recovered.

Hirst described these projects as his own "most exciting to date."

Hirst called these projects “the most exciting to date”. Credit: Courtesy of Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

As for “Currency,” the NFT marketplace that handled the initial sale, Heni, is releasing a monthly report analyzing the buying and selling of Hearst’s NFTs in the secondary market, which have plummeted in value since the start of the project, as well as cryptocurrencies. fell. The first report notes that from July 30 to August 31, 2021, 2,036 “Currencies” were sold for a total of $47.9 million. Meanwhile, in June of this year, there were only 170 sales totaling $1.4 million.

The resale of physical works seems to be doing better. In January, one of the original paintings sold at a Phillips auction in London for £18,900 (US$23,000).

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