fIf it’s true, if it’s more than vulgarity, it’s a legal issue. Florida-based crypto entrepreneur Martin Mobarak wants to burn a work by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo so that it only exists virtually in the form of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) – a series of certificates of ownership on a blockchain.
A video on YouTube should show the action, reportedly staged in July: You can see a pool party, where a photo is taken out of a frame to the sounds of a mariachi band and eaten by the flames in a cocktail glass on dry ice . On the website FRIDA.NFT, it is listed under “Fantasmones siniestros” (creepy ghosts), identified as a sheet torn from a diary by Kahlo, on which the artist sketched fantastical creatures in watercolor circa 1944.
Mobarak claims to have purchased it from a private owner for $10 million in 2015. Now it will be destroyed – or, as Mobarak says, rise like a phoenix from the ashes in ten thousand NFTs. For the price of three ethers each – nearly $4,000 – these can be “coined”.
The fact that “part” of the proceeds go to charity and the Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacan doesn’t make it any better. The Mexican Ministry of Culture checks whether Mobarak has burned an authentic work, because the deliberate destruction of an art monument is punishable in Mexico. The lack of demand would hit the detonator harder and faster: if he stayed on the NFTs, he would have burned a lot of money, and it would serve him well.
The alleged Kahlo burning combines two heated market events: There is the rise in value that the works of the Mexican woman have recently experienced. A self-portrait of Kahlo at Sotheby’s in New York cost $34.9 million in November 2021, which was available in 1990 for $1.9 million. And there is the bad habit of NFT, which is still popular despite the crypto crash, of destroying physical works for the sake of the tokens.
Images become confetti
In early 2021, activists burned a Banksy print, sold it as an NFT and made a profit. Damien Hirst, one of today’s most enthusiastic and successful artists playing with market mechanisms, has launched an art project called “The Currency” that focuses on value-adding or value-destroying combustion. If you buy one of the ten thousand images that look like banknotes with a confetti print, you will receive it on paper – or as NFT, the corresponding sheet will be burned. More than half of the buyers opted for something tangible, but Hirst still has a lot to do when he launches the auto-da-fé at the Frieze art fair in London on October 11.
Thanks to inflation, anyone can burn money, and by the way, there is also NFT art without destroying others for it. But if book-burning associations don’t bother you, please do, and if an artist keeps the match with their own work, do for us. Only Frida Kahlo no longer has a say. Otherwise, she probably would have stopped Mara de Anda Romeo, one of her great-grandmothers, from buying a Red House brick from the artist. For the metaverse.