NFTs and burning paintings at new Damien Hirst show

NFTs and burning paintings at new Damien Hirst show

NFTs and burning paintings at new Damien Hirst show

The latest show by Damien Hirst displays thousands of the provocative British artist’s colorful spot paintings... many of which he will set on fire after selling them in digital form as NFTs.

The exhibition, “The Currency,” which opened on Sept. 23 in London, is Hirst’s first project involving NFTs, a new technology growing in popularity as a way of owning art.

At the Newport Street Gallery in south London, huge panels are covered with 10,000 unique spot paintings on A4-sized paper.

Multicolored dots stretch as far as the eye can see. On the back of each are handwritten phrases based on lyrics of the 57-year-old artist’s favorite songs.
And upstairs in the gallery, six fireplaces are ready to burn the works.
The works date from 2016 when Hirst created paintings he thought could become a kind of currency.
But it was two years later that the artist, whose works are among the most expensive on the market for contemporary creators, came up with the idea for the project in its current form.

NFTs or “Non-Fungible Token,” are digital works that cannot be replaced with anything else and are therefore unique.
Each has a digital certificate of authenticity which, in theory at least, cannot be tampered with: It is registered in a blockchain, like cryptocurrencies.
“The Currency” project launched in July last year, when the 10,000 works went on sale for $2,000 each.
Each of the multi-colored dot paintings was signed by Hirst. Each also had its own NFT. And prices soared rapidly, with one painting selling for $172,239.

The people who bought the paintings received the corresponding NFT and had a year, until July 27, to choose whether to keep the NFT or exchange it for the original painting.
More than half (5,149) decided to take the painting while the rest opted to keep the NFTs.
Hirst now plans to burn the 4,851 physical paintings of those who chose NFTs.
“It’s an experiment... We’re forcing people to make their choice,” the artist says in a video.
Hirst will set the works on fire himself at the gallery on Oct. 11, a day before the opening of Frieze London, one of the world’s biggest contemporary art fairs.
He will only burn some of the unwanted paintings, while the rest will remain on display until the exhibition closes on Oct. 30.