British artist Damien Hirst is among the many art-world giants who have set fire to their work, having burned 1,000 of his artworks on Tuesday. He streamed the event on Instagram and is set to burn thousands more works of art. It's part of his project, “The Currency.”
It consists of a collection of 10,000 NFTs. Each non-fungible token corresponds to a physical painting featuring his signature multicoloured dots, made from enamel paint on handmade paper.
“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,” Hirst wrote in an Instagram caption, “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.”
A year after buying a piece from “The Currency,” collectors had to make a choice. They could either take the painting, meaning they would lose the NFT, or hold onto the NFT, meaning the painting would be burned.
In the contemporary art market, art is traded like an asset and seen as a financial instrument. NFTs are a new type of asset that can be commodified. Many comments on Hirst's Instagram post about the burning were critical. “Either way, it's all about the money,” wrote one user on Instagram. Hirst is set to burn thousands more works of art.