Damien Hirst burned artworks from his first NFT collection, The Currency today, Tuesday 11th October 2022. The burning session was the first to take place in the gallery and the event was livestreamed. All the remaining artworks to be destroyed will be burned at a specified time each day during the rest of the show until it closes on 30th October 2022.
Is it a portent of doom? Famously on 15th September 2008 Damien Hirst auctioned $200 million worth of his artworks, on exactly the same day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.
At the time of its collapse, Lehman was the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States with 25,000 employees worldwide. It had $639 billion in assets and $613 billion in liabilities. The bank became a symbol of the excesses of the 2007-08 Financial Crisis, engulfed by the subprime meltdown that swept through financial markets and cost an estimated $10 trillion in lost economic output.
What could Hirst’s burning of his artwork signify we’ll have to watch the next 24hrs.
The Currency, which the artist launched with HENI in July 2021, is a collection of 10,000 NFTs which correspond with 10,000 original artworks by the artist. Collectors were given the choice to either keep the NFT or exchange it for the physical artwork. The exchange period closed on 27 July 2022 resulting in just over half the collectors, 5,149, deciding to keep the physical artwork, and 4,851 the NFT.
Damien Hirst views The Currency as a work of art in which people participate by buying, holding, selling and exchanging the artworks.
The Currency Chronicles, a publication outlining the community experiences of the first phase of the project, launched during the exhibition.
The physical artworks were created by hand in 2016 using enamel paint on handmade paper. Each artwork is numbered, titled, stamped, and signed by the artist on the back. Additional authenticity features on the artwork paper include a watermark, a microdot and a hologram containing a portrait of the artist. On each artwork, no colour is repeated twice. The titles were generated through the application of machine learning to some of the artist’s favourite song lyrics.
Damien Hirst: The Currency – 30th October 2022, Newport Street Gallery