Erik Weijers, 8 months ago

Hirst's first NFT collection presses buyers: physical or NFT?

Renowned British artist Damien Hirst is releasing his first NFT collection of ten thousand items. The project is called The Currency and each artwork has an NFT as its counterpart: a digital image with certificate of ownership on the blockchain. But here's the twist: buyers can't keep both....

Hirst is creating ten thousand physical and unique artworks. Interested parties have been able to sign up and are assigned a random copy. As each copy is sold, its NFT is minted. By July 27, buyers must choose which of the two will be destroyed: the NFT or the artwork itself....

About Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst is perhaps best known for the work For the Love of God: the diamond-encrusted skull, which cost twelve million Pounds to make. Hirst, despite his somewhat advanced age (well into his fifties), is very interested in the NFT market. With his new project he shows that he loves to experiment.

What will buyers choose?

Of course we are curious about the outcome. Are most buyers going to choose the NFT or the actual artwork? Are the majority really going to give up the right to be able to hang a real Hirst in their home to get an NFT in its place? That would be absurd, wouldn't it?

But wait, not so fast. For example, how easy is it to resell a physical Hirst? Then you'll have to approach a gallery or an auction house or ... er eBay? NFTs are a very liquid market for which the platforms you buy on can also be used to sell again. Certainly people who are more inclined to trade are likely to choose an NFT.

Echoes of the NFT Diamond

Hirst's project is reminiscent of the NFT auction of a diamond by Tascha Che in 2021. She bought a diamond for 5 thousand dollars, minted an NFT of it and then shattered the physical diamond in front of the camera to prove it. She then sold the NFT for 5 ETH, which was and is worth more than the diamond itself. Her hypothesis was confirmed: an NFT is very suitable for encapsulating and trading the abstract, 'store of value' aspect of a physical object.

Hirst is doing something similar. What he does is a kind of research / experiment about what art is in the digital world: 'The Currency explores the boundaries of art and currency—when art changes and becomes a currency, and when currency becomes art.' The project, of course, is also just a fun mindfuck....

But an expensive one. At the time of writing, the bottom price per copy on OpenSea is about 7 ETH.

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Amazon is actively looking into NFTs. Lego is entering the metaverse and companies like Adidas already have celebrated successful partnerships with iconic NFT projects such as the BAYC. NFTs are not the only use case when it comes down to Web3 but they do play an important role in this developing ecosystem. While some companies are opening themselves up to new ideas and opportunities, others are shutting their doors by trying to control digital products rather than sharing them with their customers.

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