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(Credit: Andrew Russeth)


Damien Hirst is to burn thousands of his paintings next month

Renowned for pickling dead animals in the 1990s, Damien Hirst is due to set fire to thousands of his paintings next month as part of a project that focuses on art as currency.

In 2016, Hirst created 10,000 different ‘dot’ paintings, with each having its own unique title and a link to a corresponding NFT. Each NFT was sold for $2000, and those who bought them were given an option of either keeping the NFT or trading it for the original physical artwork.

Yesterday, the day before the deadline for making their decision, 4,180 buyers had chosen to swap their NFT for the physical artwork, while 5,820 people had decided to keep their NFTs.

The physical copies not traded will be destroyed from September 9th onwards at Hirst’s gallery in London. The NFTs that have been traded will also be destroyed.

Hirst entitled his project ‘The Currency’ and told Mark Carney, the ex-Bank of England governor, that he thought the project was an “interesting experiment” in an interview last year, adding, “It’s an installation, really, but like a global one. The involvement of everybody is part of ‘The Currency’ project. It’s as much about the movement of the objects as it is about the objects.”

NFTs have burst into popularity over the last few years, with many heralded auction houses getting involved in their sale, including Christie’s, who sold an NFT of ‘Everydays: the First 5,000 Days’ by a digital artist named Beeple for an eye-watering $69m.

Hirst has now gotten in on the digital artwork action. However, he is already the wealthiest artist in the UK, having a net worth of over £315m and a property portfolio alone worth £150m, which includes a mansion in Regent’s Park and a 2,000 piece art collection, including the works of Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso.