British artist Damien Hirst could rake in $20 million from a new set of NFTs, or nonfungible tokens.
Blurring the lines between physical and digital art, Hirst is launching a project called The Currency. It consists of 10,000 NFTs that each correspond to physical prints that Hirst created five years ago and are stored in a vault in the United Kingdom.
The physical works are spot paintings with titles generated from machine-learning applied to song lyrics. Each piece is individually numbered and signed by the artist, and features a hologram containing a portrait of Hirst.
The NFTs will cost $2,000 and be available for purchase starting on July 29 through the online art marketplace Heni.
NFTs are digital files like JPEGs or video clips that live on a blockchain, where they are authenticated by a network of computers and their ownership can be tracked and verified.
NFTs are surging in popularity in the art and music worlds. An artist known as Beeple sold a single JPEG in the form of an NFT for $69 million in March through an auction at Christie’s, surpassing record prices for works by classic artists such as Georges Seurat and Francisco Goya.
(ticker: DKNG), meanwhile, is launching an NFT marketplace for sports collectibles. A new movie with Anthony Hopkins, Zero Contact, is slated to premiere this summer on an NFT and video platform called Vuele.
Hirst has come up with a twist on the NFT market, however: He’s forcing buyers to choose between digital and physical art.
Collectors of the NFTs will have a choice of keeping the digital token or exchanging it for a physical print. If they want to keep the NFT, the paper version will be burned on July 27, 2022. If they go for the print, the NFT will be destroyed.
Art collectors will thus face a day of reckoning, choosing which version they think will hold more value—the physical or digital. NFTs have lately been raking in prices that exceed physical art. Whether it’s a digital tulip bubble is a question that Hirst is offloading to the community of collectors, traders, and speculators.
“I’ve got no idea what people will do,” Hirst told CNBC on Wednesday. “A lot of people in the physical art world really don’t like the people in the digital art world and vice versa,” he added. “It’s great to see what will happen, and I have no idea.”
Hirst, one of the most commercially successful artists in history, is accepting payment in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Coin, and Dai. In March, he sold 7,481 prints for $3,000 each, taking in $22.4 million, accepting payments in cryptos such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. according to Artnet.
The NFTs for The Currency will live on the Palm blockchain, running on the Ethereum network.
Asked if he would hold the cryptos or convert them to cash, Hirst said he plans to keep the crypto. “I love all the currencies,” he said.
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