We’re living in a Basquiat auction boom right now — and an NFT bubble. Nothing sums up this peculiar moment in history better than the auction of the late, great painter’s “Free Comb with Pagoda” mix media work, which is being sold as an NFT with the option to destroy the original.
The highest bidder will receive an encrypted digitized token of Basquiat’s original work. And that’s when things get weird. At the buyer’s discretion, the original artwork will be “deconstructed,” leaving the NFT as the only remaining form of Basquiat’s work to exist. The Art Newspaper reports that the auction is sponsored by Daystrom, the self-described “digital provocateurs” behind the iconic BowieBank.
Speaking on the auction, the “multi-segment mindshare” explained, “Value has become increasingly fungible, diluted and unstable in our evolving metaverse and there’s a tremendous spike in user demand for exclusivity. NFT assets provide this exclusivity and create an entirely new online value system that was previously unimaginable.”
That’s all well and good, but do we really need to destroy an original Basquiat in the name of fungibility? From the Dadaists to Banksy, self-destructing artworks are nothing new, but Daystrom has put a peculiar and troubling twist on the theme by putting the act of destruction in the hands of the highest bidder.
“Free Comb with Pagoda” is open for bidding on OpenSea marketplace, starting at one Ethereum (approximately $2,500). The artwork had failed to sell at an auction in 2012 when it was offered for $80,000 to $120,000, but given the recent record auction run of Basquiat paintings and the controversial nature of this auction, “Free Comb with Pagoda” is likely to fetch a high price by April 30.