Damien Hirst creates work that can be purchased with cryptocurrency

'I love art and I love the crypto world and I am happy and proud to put my belief into it,' says the British artist

British artist Damien Hirst's latest work is a series of eight prints called 'The Virtues'. Damien Hirst and Science Ltd
British artist Damien Hirst's latest work is a series of eight prints called 'The Virtues'. Damien Hirst and Science Ltd

Damien Hirst has always put the intertwined relationship between art and finance at the centre of his practice.

During the Young British Artists years, he set up a restaurant, Pharmacy in London, cashing in on his reputation. He publicly turned his studio into a company, Science (UK) Ltd. He showed a diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God (2007) with a fixed price, contrasting the material worth of the object (£14 million, or $20 million) with the amount he was selling it for (£50 million, or $70 million).

So it stands to reason that Hirst would be among the first major artists to get on the cyber-currency trend that the art world is currently wrapping its collective head around.

A set of eight cherry blossom prints by Damien Hirst, 'The Virtues', published by HENI Editions. HENI Leviathan; Damien Hirst
A set of eight cherry blossom prints by Damien Hirst, 'The Virtues', published by HENI Editions. HENI Leviathan; Damien Hirst

Eight new prints from his The Virtues series, depicting cherry blossoms in bloom, are now available for purchase with the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ether.

"I’ve made eight beauty cherry blossom prints called The Virtues, with @heni. The eight prints are each titled after one of The Eight Virtues of Bushido: Justice, Courage, Mercy, Politeness, Honesty, Honour, Loyalty, Control," the artist wrote in an Instagram post.

"It’s hard for any of us to trust anything in this life but somehow we manage it and we even find love and I love art and I love the crypto world and I am happy and proud to put my belief into Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) and accept them for this drop," he says.

The works are being sold via Heni Leviathan, an online marketplace and art services company in the UK. Each print is $3,000, though an edition number is – unusually – not fixed, and will depend on the ultimate amount of demand. The length of time available to buy them on Heni is limited though: you have only until Wednesday, March 3. Collectors can only buy one of each print.

How much of this is a stunt, and how much is Hirst investigating the capabilities of the new currencies, is not clear. On the face of it, it is hard to see what these rather banal depictions of pretty spring scenes have to do with blockchain technology, decentralised currencies or the lack of regulations that surround them.

The news here might be less about Hirst, and more about how established businesses are becoming increasingly open to non-government-backed currencies.

Updated: March 2, 2021 10:31 AM

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