A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) enthusiast has burned a priceless drawing in the apparently mistaken belief that it would increase the artwork's value on the blockchain. As well as not recouping anywhere near the artwork's value, the artist is under investigation by Mexican authorities for the stunt.
Businessman Martin Mobarak burned the artwork by acclaimed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, minting 10,000 NFTs depicting it, which he must have believed to be more valuable than the work itself. The drawing, however, was worth around $10 million prior to burning, while only four NFTs have been sold so far according to the New York Times, raising around $11,000.
“Like a Phoenix rising from its ashes, this collection of 10,000 NFT’s represents the rebirth & immortality of a timeless piece by Frida Kahlo, Fantasmones Siniestros," Mobarak said in a statement prior to what looked a lot more like a bog-standard burning than a rebirth.
"This piece will be transformed to live eternally in the digital realm Saturday night in Miami".
Specifically by transforming it from a drawing into a drawing that had been burned.
“People may see it as I destroyed it. But I didn’t,” Mobarak told Vice. “This way I am bringing it to the world. I am letting everybody see it. I think it does more good for the world and makes a statement rather than just sitting in someone’s private collection.”
In September, the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature confirmed that an investigation was taking place into the destruction of the drawing.
“The deliberate destruction of an artistic monument constitutes a crime in terms of the federal law on archaeological, artistic and historical monuments and zones,” the organization said in a statement seen by the New York Times.
There have been suggestions that the drawing itself could have been a forgery. However, this would not get Mobarak out of the situation without other legal repercussions.
“If he did actually burn it, he is breaking one law,” lawyer specializing in cultural heritage law, Leila Amineddoleh, told the New York Times. “And if he didn’t, if it was a reproduction, then he might have violated copyright law. And if he copied the original with an intent to deceive, it could be fraud.”
Mobarak told Vice that the artwork was a genuine original, which he bought from a private collector back in 2015.