Damien Hirst is jumping on the digital-art bandwagon by making his own NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) and a cryptocurrency of his own.
“It is the most exciting project I have ever worked on by far,” Hirst says in a statement, adding that he’s been working on the project in secret for five years, and that it’s been “blowing my mind.” The NFTs belong to a new body of works he calls “The Currency” and includes a series of prints of trees.
In their physical, non-NFT form, the works are laminated Giclée prints on aluminum composite panels and measure about 47 by 38 inches. Hirst has already racked up $22.4 million by selling 7,481 of the prints prints at $3,000 each to about 4,000 buyers in 67 countries. The editions were available for six days, ending March 3, and however many prints had sold determined the number of the editions, so they ended up in odd numbers, from 693 to 1,549.
For the first time, Hirst and the publisher of the edition accepted cryptocurrency (in the form of Ether or Bitcoin) as a form of payment.
The eight prints are each titled after one of the eight virtues of Bushidō, the code of the samurai, such as courage, loyalty, and mercy. (There were many varieties, and this one conforms to the one developed by Japanese author Nitobe Inazō.)
The prints were published with Heni Leviathan, which has produced limited-edition prints by artists including Etel Adnan, Francis Bacon, and Arthur Jafa in formats including photographs, tapestries, and stained glass.
According to Hirst, the works are currently in a vault. Heni offered buyers the opportunity to store the works in its own storage space in the UK, so that they, as art that’s bought as an investment so often doest. In this case, the works will have been virtually unseen by human eyes. This all presumably somehow aligns with Hirst’s professed interest in “[challenging] the concept of value through money and art.”