Damien Hirst Burns $10 Million Live as Part of NFT Project

Damien Hirst. Source: damienhirst / Instagram

English artist and art collector Damien Hirst completed his year-long non-fungible token (NFT) project by burning $10 million worth of his physical artwork.

Hirst burned a part of the unclaimed physical artworks at his London gallery this Thursday during a live stream.

Asked how he felt while burning his works, Hirst was quoted by BBC as saying, 

"It feels good, better than I expected. [...] 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."

According to the entrepreneur, who is reportedly Britain's richest living artist, the hard-to-define value of art is not lost through this process but is transferred to the NFTs as soon as the physical piece is destroyed. 

Hirst's collection, called The Currency, was launched in July last year. Each of the 10,000 art pieces included in the collection had a corresponding NFT, with a $2,000 mint price. Each buyer had a year to decide between receiving the painting or the NFT representing it. If they chose to keep the NFT instead of swapping it for the physical oil painting - the latter got burned. 

Per BBC, London's Newport Street Gallery said that 5,149 buyers chose the original physical artworks, while nearly half – or 4,851 – opted for the NFTs.

This means that there were 4,851 physical pieces left to be removed from existence – and this is what Hirst began doing this week. He will complete the artwork burn by the end of October. 

The artworks were created in 2016 with enamel paint on handmade paper. Each is numbered, titled, stamped, and signed, and Hirst showed the code of each piece to the camera before burning it, said the BBC.

Hirst told the industry publication The Art Newspaper in July that,

"This project explores the boundaries of art and currency—when art changes and becomes a currency, and when currency becomes art. It’s not a coincidence that governments use art on coins and notes. They do this to help us believe in money. Without art, it’s hard for us to believe in anything."

Per the NFT marketplace OpenSea, on Thursday noon UTC time, the floor price of Hirst’s The Currency collection was ETH 4.9, worth $6,185. The total volume recorded is ETH 22,474 ($28.4 million), with an all-time average price of nearly ETH 7.2 ($9,090). 

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Learn more: 
- Physical Art Narrowly Wins Over NFTs in Damien Hirst’s Experiment
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- Damien Hirst’s NFT Art Project: What We’ll Discover When It's Over
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