British artist Damien Hirst torches NFT-linked artworks, with plans to burn thousands more

Quick Take

  • Damien Hirst, one of the UK’s best-known modern artists, set fire to hundreds of artworks this week – with plans to torch thousands more – as part of a long-running NFT project.

Damien Hirst, one of the UK's best-known modern artists, has set fire to hundreds of artworks – with plans to torch thousands more – as part of a long-running NFT project.

The experimental art project saw Hirst create thousands of artworks as part of a project called "The Currency." Hirst created 10,000 paintings and each one had an accompanying NFT. Buyers were later given the choice: take possession of the physical artwork, or keep the NFT. For those choosing the latter option, Hirst planned to set the physical artwork aflame.

Hirst stayed true to his word and conducted an initial burn during a live stream. According to a post on his Instagram account, Hirst contended that "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."

"Finished the burn!!!" Hirst wrote in a second post on Tuesday.

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A post shared by Damien Hirst (@damienhirst)

According to NPR, roughly 4,800 buyers opted to retain their NFTs rather than swap it out for a physical copy of the art. As such, Hirst has thousands more to burn. 

Hirst's effort represents one of the more headline-grabbing intersections between the mainstream art world and NFTs. The market for the latter has seen a notable decline in activity since the spring, according to The Block's Data Dashboard.

The headline-grabbing experiment comes alongside notable auction houses such as Christie's also flirting with the NFT space as well as a plan by the Museum of Modern Art in New York to use part of a $70 million sale to fund NFT purchases. 

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