Damien Hirst to burn 4,851 paintings in NFT project

The former Turner art prize winner has said he feels the NFT community ‘breeds support’

Artist Damien Hirst standing in front of his famous shark artwork at the Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, 2018                                 
Damien Hirst will be burning almost 5,000 physical paintings as part of his NFT project, called The Currency – Photo: Getty Images
                                

Damien Hirst, who was the UK’s richest artist in 2020 and winner of the Turner prize in 1995, will be burning almost 5,000 physical paintings as part of his non-fungible token (NFT) project called The Currency.

From 9 September, those who visit Hirst’s private museum, Newport Street Gallery in London, will be able to view some of the 10,000 oil paintings on paper that the artist created in 2016 and then linked to NFTs in 2021.

Those who bought the NFTs, which were priced at $2,000 (£1,645) each, were given the option to keep the NFT or trade it for the physical painting. If the NFT was picked, then the original artwork will be burned.

How many NFTs will Hirst burn?

The deadline for NFT owners has now passed with a nearly 50-50 split – 4,851 wanted to keep their NFTs and burn the original paintings while 5,149 decided to trade their NFTs for a physical painting.

Regarding this decision Hirst said: “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 artist went onto say that the NFT community “breeds support and seems to care about s**t” which is something he believes makes it more attractive over the physical art world.   

Hirst admitted that he has “no idea what the future holds, whether the NFTs or physicals are going to be more valuable or less. But this is art – the fun part of the journey and maybe the point of the whole project. Even after one year, I feel the journey is just beginning.”

The original sales and second-hand resales were handled by NFT marketplace and technology company Heni.

A global installation

In 2021, Hirst told former governor of the Bank of England (BoE), Mark Carney during a YouTube interview that The Currency is an “interesting experiment” and more of an “installation, really, but kind of like a global one… The involvement of everybody is part of The Currency project. It’s as much about the movement of the objects as it is about the objects.”

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