Keep or Burn: In Damien Hirst's Latest NFT Collection, You Can Either Keep Your Digital Tender or Trade It for One That You Can Hang on Your Wall - Arts & Culture

From the time of purchase, each buyer has a year to decide.

British artist Damien Hirst launched “The Currency,” a collection of 10,000 Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) which each have 10,000 physical artworks in correspondence. Buyers have the choice to either keep their digital NFT or swap it for the unique hand-painted paper version—and from the time of purchase, they have one year to decide. Whichever they choose, its equivalent gets ceremonially burned.

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Each of the painting-NFTs sells for $2,000, and according to Hirsts’ social media posts back in August, the collection’s sales have reached $25 million.

The Currency became available to collectors last July and will maintain a ten-month purchasing window. However, yesterday was the first day buyers started exchanging their NFT tenders for physical art at London’s Claridge’s ArtSpace.

Unique pieces

Hirst’s career dates back to the eighties, and he is known for his dotted art canvas paintings. The wealthiest artist in the world—with a net worth of $700,000,000—also sprung to fame by creating odd creations that revolve around the theme of death, where Hirst used dead animal bodies for his exhibitions Cuddly Farm Animals, Sea Creatures, and Miscellaneous Remains.

More recently, the 56-year-old made Drake’s latest album Certified Lover Boy’s cover art, featuring twelve emojis of pregnant women in sweaters of different colors—reminiscent of his signature spotted paintings where, at times, no two dots have the same shade.

To ensure each of the 10,000 real-life artworks of The Currency is different from the rest of its set, Hirst utilizes machine-based learning. The system uses a database encrypted with some of Hirst’s favorite songs, such as Wet Moving Mirror and Grandfathered to the Gang.

While every dot consists of a different color, each paper piece is numbered, signed, and stamped by Hirst along with a hologram portrait of the artist. 

Years in the making

“It is the most exciting project I have ever worked on by far,” Hirst says in a statement on his first foray into NFTs last March. He adds that he’s been working on The Currency five years before its launch. 

In the same month, Hirst earned $22.4 million in cryptocurrency (Ether or Bitcoin was accepted) when he started honoring the form of payment for his laminated Giclée prints. Around 4,000 buyers from 67 countries availed in only six days.

Banner photo from @damienhirst on Instagram.

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