In the experimental “The Currency” by Damien Hirst, the NFTs limited the post of physical works

For his many variations of “spot paintings”, British artist Damien Hirst, who loves colored dots as much as greenbacks, has begun a new phase in his experimental mix of paper and NFT works. Faced with a difficult choice, buyers of “The Currency Project” collection had until July 27 to choose which format they wanted to keep. The affair was concluded neck and neck and will give rise to a spectacular wave of physical works abandoned in favor of their digital version.

NFT or physical works? buyers have decided

The unprecedented experiment led by British visual artist Damien Hirst is entering its final phase. As a reminder “The Currency Project” launched a year ago, combines a corpus of 10,000 paper works and as many non-fungible tokens (NFT), a gesture that aligns well with the era of “crypto art”. But the distinctive character of the initiative is due to the fact that after a year of retention, collectors had to make a choice: either to keep their NFT originally acquired for 2000 dollars, or to exchange it for the corresponding paperwork. The principle is that if NFT is not delivered against a proper printout, the physical work is doomed to play. Otherwise, the non-fungible token will be destroyed.

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With Damien Hirst’s Currency Project, you have to choose between NFT or paperwork

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July 27, 2022 is the deadline and we finally know the buyers’ preferences. And the least we can say is that NFTs are now firmly established in contemporary art. We already knew that.

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Experiment à la Hirst confirms it with almost half of the buyers, i.e. 4,851 enthusiasts of “The Currency” choose the NFT version, compared to 5,149 collectors who chose to exchange their NFTs for physical works.

The “currency project” in numbers

The initial sale and resale was handled by Heni Marketplace. “The Currency Project” has been praised since its launch and has seen a slowdown in recent months, as has the crypto market.

According to the monthly report produced by the platform that analyzes the exchange of NFTs on the secondary market, between July 30 and August 31, 2021, 2036 sales were completed for an amount of $47.9 million. In comparison, last June only 170 sales were observed for a total of $1.4 million.

More broadly, the maximum price for an NFT in the collection reached nearly $177,000, with buyers shelling out an average of $21,000 in Ether, USDC or Dai to acquire one of the valuable digital tokens. According to Heni’s website, the collection’s total sales today are $89.3 million. Undoubtedly somewhat disappointing results for the visual artist, “the richest artist in the UK” according to The Guardian with a fortune estimated at £315 million sterling in 2020, who admits to his taste for money and also claims a business acumen.

An organized auto-da-fé

From September 9, the most provocative phase of the project begins with a book that burns in the form of a conclusion. In fact, all the works on display at the Newport Street Gallery in London, owned by the artist, equivalent to NFT held by collectors, will go up in smoke. A daily flare until the closing event during Frieze Week in October for a fiery finale.

Describing the project as “by far the most exciting” of his career, Hirst explores a question that has plagued him since its inception: the relationship between art and money.. An NFT is by nature more easily tradable and transferable than a physical object, it is likely to become a vector for radical upheavals in the merchant’s relationship to art. But not only. By forcing buyers of his works to choose between two versions, he forces them to question their own perception of art. The public’s almost 50/50 choice testifies that physical painting and digital avatar are now almost equal, at least in hype by superstar Hirst. However, it can be interpreted as a further indication of a changing contemporary art world.

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