Britain’s wealthiest living artist, Damien Hirst, has started setting fire to millions of dollars worth of his own artworks as part of his nonfungible token (NFT) project “The Currency.”
During an Oct. 11 livestream of his London gallery at 12:30 pm local time, Hirst burned hundreds of his own The Currency artworks, ensuring that they exist only in the form of an NFT moving forward.
The Currency is the name given to Hirst’s first NFT collection which dropped last year — made up of 10,000 NFTs each tied to a physical oil painting.
The project has been part of Hirst’s social experiment that tests the worth of purely digital art versus physical art.
Collectors who had bought one of the $2,000 floor-priced NFTs were given one year to decide whether they would keep the NFT or trade it in for the physical painting.
In July, the deadline for the decision was reached, with 5,149 paintings to be delivered as physical pieces of art, and 4,851 paintings to exist only in digital form.
Asked about how he felt burning the artwork, Hirst said, “It feels good, better than I expected,” according to a report from the BBC.
The remaining oil paintings will continue to be burned at the Newport Street Gallery until The Currency exhibition closes on Sept. 30.
“A lot of people think I’m burning millions of dollars of art but I’m not, I’m completing the transformation of these physical artworks into NFTs by burning the physical versions,” said Hirst the day before the burn event.
“The value of art, digital or physical, which is hard to define at the best of times will not be lost, it will be transferred to the NFT as soon as they are burnt.”
Hirst’s The Currency collection is listed on NFT marketplace OpenSea with a floor price of 5.1 Ether (ETH), worth $6,539 at the time of writing. The most recently sold piece, named “V-Day of consent,” fetched 5.08 ETH.