After 5 p.m. I start drinking and things at Money Stuff deteriorate quickly. https://t.co/GCEoC3bVHn
— Matt Levine (@matt_levine) October 11, 2022
There are critics who aver that Damien Hirst’s career has been less about creating than about performing. He has, for many years, admitted that most of “his” work was actually done by his ‘assistants’:
Hirst once said he didn’t paint his own spot paintings because, “I couldn’t be f***ing arsed doing it,” according to The Guardian.
Given that pedigree, perhaps the latest Hirst performance was predictable. Per Matt Levine, at Bloomberg:
1- Pay Damien Hirst £2,000 and get one of his dot paintings;
2- Pay Damien Hirst £2,000 and not get one of his dot paintings; or
3- Don’t pay Damien Hirst £2,000 at all.
I know what I would choose (what I have chosen), but the market seems pretty evenly divided between Options 1 and 2:[Yes, readers: Hirst has publicly torched a bunch of dotworks, live at the Turner Gallery.]
The British artist and art collector created 10,000 unique dot paintings in 2016 which corresponded with a collection of 10,000 NFTs, a unique digital token that can be traded online.
In “The Currency”, Hirst’s first NFT collection, he gave his buyers the choice to exchange their NFT version – worth £2,000 – for the physical artwork…
Hirst, reportedly the UK’s wealthiest living artist, pledged to destroy all the original artworks that people decided not to exchange their virtual token for.
As a result, he will torch thousands of paintings – collectively worth almost £10 million – starting on Tuesday afternoon at the Newport Street Gallery in London.
The advantages of not exchanging your NFT for the physical artwork are (1) this way you don’t have to find a place to hang a Damien Hirst dot painting in your house and (2) the image of Damien Hirst lighting thousands of his paintings on fire because nobody wants them is in fact very funny, and you have contributed to that act of comedy. The disadvantages are (1) you paid him £2,000 and (2) now you have nothing. Oh you have an NFT, you have an NFT, you have an NFT…
The market for NFTs has collapsed, but in the bull market of 2021 thousands of artists and hucksters had this exact same idea, which was “I will make or acquire some art object, light it on fire, and sell an NFT ‘of’ the incinerated object to crypto people.” Hirst, being an art industrialist, introduced mass production into the mix, but his basic idea was an exact copy of everyone else’s. The “object-fire-token-money NFT cycle,” I have called it.
As a matter of finance, I cannot fault this: If you can identify a bubble, and you have some free time, the right move is to sell into the bubble. But as art I hate it. It’s so stupid! Everyone involved should be incredibly embarrassed! What an absolute lack of creativity! Everything about this is the opposite of art! If you find yourself lighting thousands of your paintings on fire because nobody wants them, the obvious conclusion to take from that is that you are a bad artist, and that conclusion is correct!
Hirst is a crappy artist, but as a performer, he has certainly earned a spot in the Huckster Hall of Infamy!