Famed contemporary artist Damien Hirst told CNBC on Wednesday that he believed in the staying power of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, the blockchain-based digital collectibles that rose in popularity this year and then fell.
“If you look at what’s going on in NFTs, you can see the galleries disappear before the NFTs go,” said Hirst in “Squawk Box,” where the British artist appeared to comment on his NFT collection called “The Currency” to discuss.
This project includes 10,000 NFTs, each of which corresponds to their own artwork. The NFTs are priced at $ 2,000 each. But the twist: your future owners have a year to choose whether to keep the NFT or trade it in for its physical creation. The one that the owners do not choose will be destroyed.
“They’re both art, and they’re both the same. I had to get into it first, and I have to accept the idea that I’m happy to destroy physical art and the NFTs,” said Hirst. “I have absolutely no idea what people are going to do.”
Applications to purchase a Hirst NFT were closed Wednesday after opening a week ago.
The NFT craze began earlier this year, coinciding with the rising interest in and value of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether; Both NFTs and cryptocurrencies are based on blockchains, which are decentralized digital ledgers. High-class auction houses Christie’s and later Sotheby’s jumped into the NFT action. In March, digital artist Beeple sold an NFT for $ 69 million at a Christie’s auction.
NFTs are unique by design, and proponents say that scarcity supports their value over the long term. But just as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies went through a rough patch this year, the amount of money spent on NFTs suffered a noticeable decline in May and into June, according to weekly sales data from website nonfungible.com. Total spending on NFTs has started an upward trend again in the past few weeks.
Critics of NFTs say they are just a fad that is destined to decline in value over time. Cryptocurrency and blockchain supporters are widely promoting NFTs as a critical innovation that can prove asset ownership in an increasingly digital world.
Hirst, a prominent figure in the Young British Artists phase that began in the late 1980s, said he saw a tension between people in the world of physical and digital art. At the same time, Hirst tried to blur the distinction in some way.
“I think digital art is probably going to take a lot longer than galleries. I mean, you probably won’t go to galleries. We’re going to sit in bars and show each other what we recently bought on our phones, and we’re going to do that now. Me just think that anything that looks and feels good and makes you feel good is good art. It doesn’t have to be in a gallery. “
Skeptics have also criticized the fact that owning an NFT-based artwork doesn’t prevent others from easily viewing the image online. Since copies of the artwork can appear in various digital locations, some are wondering what the value proposition of NFT property really is.
In response to this criticism, Hirst said: “It is not new that artists want to reproduce things.”
“I’ve thought about it a lot, in relation to the Mona Lisa. Which one would I rather own? The Mona Lisa itself, with all the difficulty looking at it because of the tourists and the bulletproof glass or the merchandising opportunities. “The T-shirts and the postcards and the earrings and the mugs,” said Hirst.
“It’s like I love both. Art exists in both areas in the world we live in today. As an artist, I want to reach people, and I find the postcard really appealing. So NFTs do it for an artist, me.” think the worst thing for an artist is to be ignored or disappear without a trace, “he said.