In a horrifying, Orwellian plot twist, the upcoming auction for an NFT of a drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat will allow the winner to destroy the original artwork.
The thirst for NFTs – intangible, digital artworks, or “non-fungible tokens” – has already recently resulted in a piece by Banksy being set alight in order that its value (reportedly upwards of $95,000) be safely confined to the digital realm. Now, Basquiat’s Free Comb with Pagoda (1986) is the latest potential casualty of collectors’ iconoclastic desire to acquire art as exclusive digital assets at the expense of the originals.
The mixed media work on paper by the legendary artist will be sold on OpenSea marketplace, where bidding starts at one ethereum (the equivalent of around $2,500). At the winner’s discretion, the physical drawing may then be “deconstructed”, thereby conferring status on the NFT as the “only remaining form” of the work.
The auction is sponsored by self-proclaimed “digital provocateurs” Daystrom, who collaborated with David Bowie on his online bank in 2000. The anonymous founders of the seemingly nefarious tech company recently explained in an online statement: “Value has become increasingly fungible, diluted and unstable in our evolving metaverse and there’s a tremendous spike in user demand for exclusivity. NFT assets provide this exclusivity and create an entirely new online value system that was previously unimaginable.”
Take a look through the gallery above to revisit some of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s most notable works along with portraits of the legendary New York artist.