Art is being tied more closely to NFTs these days, even as the concept of art itself is evolving in the digital world. We’ve seen NFTs of rare art pieces being sold and an entire niche of art emerge that is strictly tied to NFTs. Needless to say, the art world seems to be embracing NFTs.
But one art collector has taken their dedication to NFT art to the next level. Martin Mobarak, a millionaire art collector based in Miami, has made headlines for burning an art illustration made by famed Mexican artist Frida Khalo. The reason for this art burning was so that he could make an NFT of it.
Burning for NFTs
The idea of burning artwork for the sake of NFTs is not necessarily new. Artist Damien Hirst also made headlines for this project in which hundreds of art pieces were burned, with only their NFT equivalents remaining. Mobarak seems to be doing something similar as he has set up an organization called Frida.NFT that brings together artists and art lovers to immortalize art. Through this event, the proceeds are given to good causes, which Mobarak says that Khalo would have wanted.
“I hope those who are here can understand, it’s to help sick children and victims of domestic abuse,” he said, during the burning.
The artwork in question was called Fantasmones Siniestros, and was an illustration from Khalo’s diary and was valued at $10 million at the time. While it is true that an NFT is more valuable the rarer the artwork it is attached to, this decision was nevertheless controversial.
Many art lovers have deemed the destruction of such a valuable piece as wasteful and the introduction of the NFT element only stirs up more controversy. Living relatives of Diego Rivera, one of the most influential artists in Mexico, have also condemned this, saying that many of Khalo’s works were not well-protected and that further destroying them only adds to the problem.
“It seems to me a medieval act, an atrocious act, it is not necessary to burn something in the physical universe to put it into the metaverse,” said Diego Maria Alvarado Rivera, great-grandson of Diego Rivera.
It is not yet known if Frida.NFT will be burning any more rare paintings in order to put them on the blockchain but this incident has certainly gained them more notoriety in the art world.
Physical and Digital Art
This incident with the Khalo painting has been a controversial one since it first came to light. On one hand, there is some truth in what Mobarak has said in that an NFT of the illustration will be more valuable if the physical painting is no longer in existence (and will be higher profile given the controversy surrounding it).
But at the same time, NFTs can be made without necessarily destroying the artwork attached to them. Seeing as this is slowly becoming more common in the art world, art burning for NFTs might continue as an interesting yet controversial practice.