Damien Hirst’s New NFT Project Forces Buyers to Choose Between Owning a Digital Token or a Work on Paper

'The Currency' is available on HENI Palm.

Damien Hirst with works from "The Currency." Courtesy of the artist.

Never one to ignore a trend, Damien Hirst is hitching his horse to the NFT wagon, with the launch of a new project he calls “The Currency.”

Hirst already made his first foray into the crypto space back in March, with an offering of works on paper published with the platform HENI Leviathan and available for purchase with cryptocurrency (he made $22.4 million from the sale of 7,481 prints). However, this is his first NFT-based collection.

The body of work Hirst calls “The Currency” consists of 10,000 NFTS that correspond to 10,000 unique works on paper created back in 2016. The spot-colored works hearken back to Hirst’s painted all-over canvases that began in the 1980s, and are being held in a secure vault somewhere in the United Kingdom, according to a press release.

A press release says that Hirst is “bringing the works to life” with their NFT counterparts, which will be offered on HENI’s new NFT platform called Palm, which is 99 percent more energy efficient than either Ethereum or Bitcoin.

Each title of the spotty works was created through machine learning based on a database of some of Hirst’s favorite song lyrics. Some of the poetic titles include Totally Gonna Sell You, Wet Moving Mirror, Grandfathered to the Gang, and My Vision Is Fucked. The works may look similar, but no two dots are the same color, while each piece is individually numbered, signed, and stamped by the artist with a microdot and a hologram featuring a portrait of Hirst.

While many artists these days are giving buyers a physical object along with their digital token, Hirst’s scheme involves a choice. The collector can either keep the NFT or exchange it for one of the works on paper, and they have one year to make their decision. By 3 p.m. BST on July 27, 2022, if collectors have not turned in the NFT for a print, the corresponding artwork will be burned.

Damien Hirst's "The Currency" courtesy of the artist.

Damien Hirst’s “The Currency” courtesy of the artist.

According to Hirst, “The Currency” project is more than just an opportunity for buying works, it is a project that in itself “challenges the concept of value through money and art” by inviting people to participate in the process of buying, holding, and selling artworks, and forcing them to confront “their perception of value, and how it influences their decision.”

Thus, an old-school luddite who just wants to dip a toe in the NFT-pool could promptly exchange the token for a physical work, while a crypto-fanatic is essentially declaring the value of a physical object less than that of a non-fungible token. “The Currency tests the boundaries of the digital and physical world and our role in both” a statement reads, adding that the time-based exchange period “ensures that even doing nothing is doing something.”

Those interested in applying have one week starting on July 14, 2021. The NFTs will be distributed beginning on July 29, 2021. Each NFT is $2,000 and can be paid for in any currency including Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Coin, and Dai, as well as using old-fashioned credit or debit cards.

Damien Hirst's "The Currency" courtesy of the artist.

Damien Hirst’s “The Currency” courtesy of the artist.

Damien Hirst's "The Currency" courtesy of the artist.

Damien Hirst’s “The Currency” courtesy of the artist.

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