Prior to his death in October 2020, MF DOOM debuted augmented reality versions of his iconic masks, previewed in an Instagram video that showed them being ‘worn’ by everyone from Jack Nicholson in The Shining, to Tyler, the Creator, Kim Kardashian, and the Mona Lisa.
Now, signed, one-off editions of the virtual masks are being auctioned off by Illust Space, in partnership with the independent hip hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, and the rapper’s widow, Jasmine Dumile.
The auction taps into one the art world’s current biggest trends, taking the form of an NFT (or non-fungible token, an asset with a unique digital identity). Besides earning the buyer exclusive rights to the original artwork, they can be virtually placed in the world and viewed by others, just as similar AR exhibitions have seen work by the likes of Olafur Eliasson, Cao Fei, Alicja Kwade, and KAWS go on public display during lockdown.
According to Illust Space, one of MF DOOM’s masks, titled “Black Sludge”, has fetched upwards of £12,000 (9.5 Ether) with 90% of proceeds going to the musician’s estate. The estate will also get 10% royalty on other artworks sold, as well as individual donations.
In the last month, Grimes has similarly auctioned her cryptoart, bringing in more than $5.8 million, while a blockchain company has set fire to a $95,000 Banksy and turned that into an NFT, declaring it: “an expression of art itself.” Just this week, the digital artist Beeple sold the NFT artwork “Everyday: The First 5000 Days” (2021) for a — frankly insane — $69.3 million (approximately £50 million), making it the third most expensive work by a living artist.
Take a closer look at MF DOOM’s augmented reality masks through the auction listings here.