Photo of Frida Kahlo burned to be sold as NFT

FIf it’s true, if it’s more than vulgarity, it’s a question of law. Florida-based crypto entrepreneur Martin Mobarak wants a work by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo burned so that it virtually exists only in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – a series of certificates of ownership over a blockchain.

A video on YouTube is said to show the action, which is said to have taken place in July: you can see a pool party, during which a photo is taken out of a frame to the sound of a mariachi band and is eaten by the flames in a cocktail glass on dry ice. On the FRIDA.NFT website, it is listed under “Fantasmones siniestros” (strange spirits), identified as a torn sheet from a Kahlo diary, on which the artist sketched fantastical beings in watercolor around 1944.

In 2015, Mobarak claims to have bought it from a private owner for ten million dollars. Now it will be destroyed – or, as Mobarak puts it, rise like a phoenix from the ashes in ten thousand NFTs. At the cost of three ethers each – almost four thousand dollars – these can be “minted”.

The fact that “part” of the profits will go to charity and the Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacan does not improve the situation. The Mexican Ministry of Culture verifies whether Mobarak burned an authentic work, since in Mexico the intentional destruction of a monument of art is a criminal offense. The lack of demand would hit the igniter harder and faster: if he stayed on the NFTs, he would have burned a lot of money, and that would do him good.

In the alleged Kahlo fire, two passionate market events are combined: there are the increases in value that Mexican women’s works have recently experienced. A self-portrait of Kahlo at Sotheby’s in New York fetched $34.9 million in November 2021, which was available for $1.9 million in 1990. And there’s the bad habit NFT, which is still popular despite the crash crypto, to destroy the physical works for the sake of the tokens.

Pictures become confetti

In early 2021, activists burned a Banksy print, sold it as NFT and made a profit. Damien Hirst, one of the most enthusiastic and successful contemporary artists playing with the mechanics of the market, started an art project called “The Currency”, which focuses on the value-added or destructive burning of value. 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, then the corresponding sheet will be burned. More than half of the buyers chose something tangible, but Hirst still has a lot to do when he launches the auto-da-fé on Oct. 11 at the Frieze art fair in London.

Thanks to inflation, anyone can burn money, and besides, there is also NFT art without destroying others. But if you don’t mind the associations with book engraving, so do it, and if an artist holds the match with their own work, for our good. Only Frida Kahlo no longer has a say. Otherwise, she probably would have stopped Mara de Anda Romeo, one of her great-grandmothers, from NFTing a brick from the artist’s Red House. For the metaverse.

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