Controversy over 1944 ‘Ominous Spirits’ burning… Mexican Government Investigation Begins
(Seoul = Yonhap News) Reporter Hwa-seop Lim = Cryptocurrency businessman said he will sell 10 million dollars (14.3 billion won) painting in the diary of the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) in the form non-fungible token (NFT) It is controversial because the original was burned.
Mexican authorities said the destruction of important cultural property is a crime and they are investigating the case.
According to the cryptocurrency industry and the art world on the 30th, Martin Mobarak, founder and CEO of the blockchain technology company ‘Frida.NFT’, announced on July 30 Fields ‘(Fantasmones Siniestros).
The burning of a mansion in Miami, Florida, USA late last month was released as a YouTube video titled ‘Burning of a $10M Frida Kahlo Painting’.
Mobarak conducted the burning in a lively atmosphere with a folk music band from Mexico playing background music, in the presence of 200 invited event attendees watching.
He placed a 23cm wide and 15cm long photo clip in a large martini glass and set it on fire, and the work quickly burned, leaving only ashes.
Mobarak is selling a high resolution digital version of this work in 10,000 NFTs. Payment is made in the cryptocurrency ‘Ethereum’ (ETH), and the price per piece is 3 ETH. This is equivalent to 4,000 US dollars in US dollars and 57 million Korean won in Korea based on the recent Ethereum price.
Frida, who sells this NFT. The NFT homepage wrote about this event, such as “Like a phoenix flying (resurrected) from the ashes, art is reborn into eternity” and “has to permanently transform into the metaverse”.
Mobarak, the founder of the company, who burned the original work, called him an “alchemist of art” who transforms physical art into digital gold.”
However, the art world is debating whether the burnt work is an original painting by Kahlo, and whether it is worth 10 million dollars.
In addition, experts also point out that it has become a problem that no one can definitely determine whether it is genuine or fake because it has been completely burned.
According to Vice.com, an American internet media outlet, Mobarak bought the work from a private collector in 2015 who claimed it was authentic from Andres Siegel, an art dealer who runs an art gallery in Mexico City.
Mary-Anne Martin, one of the world’s leading Latin American art dealers, told Vice.com that she had sold “ominous spirits” twice.
He said he had sold the work to an organization in 2004 and to a private collector in 2013, but that he had never dealt with Martin Mobarak and had only heard of the man’s name last week.
James Alls, a senior lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts at Wellesley University in the United States and in charge of curating Latin American art at the university’s museum, said he could not comment on the authenticity of the painting Mobarak burned, saying, “We cannot find evidence that can determine whether it is real or not. (Mobarak) got rid of him. Isn’t it convenient?” he said sarcastically.
Mobarak is known to be a Mexican-American citizen, and it is unknown if he holds Mexican citizenship.
When the burning incident became known, Mexican authorities are investigating the possibility that Mobarak’s actions may have violated existing laws that protect cultural assets. Mexican federal law makes it a crime to intentionally destroy important cultural assets, including important works of art.
Mexico’s National Academy of Arts and Letters (INBAL) said in a recent statement about the incident that it was “collecting all the necessary information to determine whether the original or a replica was destroyed.”
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