LONDON - British artist Damien Hirst is set to burn 4,851 of his paintings in a project titled The Currency.
The works were part of 10,000 individual dot paintings he had created in 2016 which were sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for US$2,000 (S$2,761) each in 2021.
Buyers were told they could keep the NFT or exchange it for a physical painting, but would not be able to have both. They were given a year to decide, with the deadline closing on Wednesday (July 27).
Slightly more than half of the owners - 5,149 of them - opted to drop their NFTs and receive it in a physical form.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Hirst, 57, who owns 1,000 of the pieces and decided to keep them as NFTs, wrote: "Otherwise it wouldn't carry on being a proper adventure for me and so I decided I need to show my 100 per cent support and confidence in the NFT world (even though it means I will have to destroy the corresponding 1,000 physical artworks)."
He added: "I have no idea what the future holds, whether the NFTs or physicals are going to be more valuable or less. But that is art."
The physical pieces will be on display at his gallery from Sept 9, with the works going up in flames on a daily basis until October.
Hirst rose to fame in the early 1990s and is best known for The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living (1991), an artwork of a tiger shark submerged in formaldehyde.
He is reportedly Britain's richest living artist, with an estimated wealth of US$384 million in 2020, according to the British newspaper Sunday Times' Rich List.