A digital bust of the late Chadwick Boseman, offered as an NFT in an unauthorized Oscar swag bag, has caused a stir online.
The artwork, created by digital artist Andre Oshea, depicts the Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom actor in gold, as if he were himself an Oscar statuette, and was going to be auctioned off on the online marketplace Rarible. That is, until the piece was pulled from the platform pre-sale as people accused the artist of exploiting Boseman’s death for personal profit.
Since then, the artist has issued a public apology and promised to redesign the artwork.
“I want you all to know that I’ve listened, heard and taken it all in as an artist and I apologize for any upset caused,” Oshea said in a statement. “I now recognize that Chadwick’s face is a triggering reminder of his death rather than his life, and I will be redesigning the artwork to be auctioned off later this week.”
, as Oshea’s design is titled, was made in conjunction with the “Everyone Wins” campaign of unofficial gift bags handed out to Oscar nominees at last weekend’s ceremony. The initiative was sponsored through a joint collaboration between Rarible and AdVenture Media Group, a small marketing agency based on Long Island, New York. (Representatives from the two companies did not immediately respond to Artnet News’s request for comment.)
Neither the bag nor the companies behind it are in any way affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. (The project’s website makes that very clear in a recently-threatened-with-legal-action kind of way.)
Inside the $205,000 gift bag, which also included “a PETA emergency hammer to save dogs trapped in hot cars” and “Hollowtips 24k gold vape cartridges,” was a coupon for the redemption of one of seven artist-designed NFTs. Oshea’s artwork was not included in this group. Instead, as part of the marketing around the initiative, it was put up for auction, with half the proceeds of the sale to be donated to the Colon Cancer Foundation. The other half, meanwhile, would go back to the artist. According to a Tweet by the Oshea, the price for the piece was set at $1.2 million.
A representative for Oshea explained that he was not paid in advance for the NFT. Any profits for the artist would come only through the auction.
Public outrage over Oshea’s gesture was aggravated by the fact that early coverage seemed to suggest that it was an official Oscars collaboration and the fact that Boseman did not take home the Best Actor Oscar, despite being the favorite to do so. Instead, the award was given to Anthony Hopkins, who was not present for the broadcast, causing the ceremony to conclude with a baffling anti-climax.
“For this project, I created a 3D animation inspired by one of my favorite films—,” Oshea explained in the press release explaining that the work would be reimagined. “As an artist whose work focuses on afrofuturism and new worlds, I felt like there was a natural synergy there.”
He continued, “I wanted to create a digital monument that embodied Chadwick’s influence as a hero to all the Black kids everywhere while raising awareness about colon cancer and its impact on Black communities.”
is reporting that the redesigned artwork will be returned to Rarible on Friday and still hopes to fetch $1 million.