Damien Hirst will burn thousands of his paintings to show art as “currency” | Damien Hirt

Damien Hirst, the artist famous for brining dead animals in the 1990s, is to burn thousands of his paintings next month in a project focused on art as currency.

Hirst, who was the UK’s richest artist in 2020 with a net worth of over £315million, will destroy artwork from his London gallery.

He created 10,000 unique dot paintings in 2016, each with its own title, which were then linked to corresponding NFTs and sold for $2,000 each. Buyers had the option of keeping the NFTs or exchanging them for the physical artwork. “The collector…can’t keep both.” This exchange is a one-way process, so choose carefully,” they told buyers.

Twenty-four hours before a 3 p.m. Wednesday deadline, 4,180 people had opted in to redeem their NFT for a physical work of art, of which 5,820 opted to keep their NFT, according to Heni, a technology company specializing in art market.

The alternate version is to be destroyed, the physical works of art – oil on paper – igniting daily from September 9.

Hirst’s project, titled The Currency, was an “interesting experiment”, the artist told Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, in a YouTube video interview last year. “It’s an installation, really, but like a global installation… Everyone’s involvement is part of The Currency project. It’s as much about the movement of objects as it is about objects.

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NFTs have exploded into the global art market over the past couple of years, with major auction houses fetching astronomical sums for high-end works. In March 2021, Christie’s sold Everydays: the First 5,000 Days by digital artist known as Beeple for a record $69 million.

Hirst, 57, was one of the Young British Artists (YBA) – along with Tracey Emin, Gavin Turk and Sam Taylor-Johnson (formerly Sam Taylor-Wood) – who dominated the British art world in the 1990s , backed by advertising mogul Charles Saatchi.

He produced a series of works in which dead animals, some of which were dissected – including a shark, a sheep and a cow – were preserved in formaldehyde.

According to The Sunday Times Rich List 2020, Hirst had a property portfolio worth around £150million, including a Palladian mansion overlooking Regent’s Park and a 2,000-room art collection including works by Picasso and Francis Bacon.