On March 3, a group of anonymous art enthusiasts decided to burn an original Banksy screenprint worth roughly £70,000 or around $95,000 USD, and then turned it into a non-fungible token (NFT) asset. The art now exists as an NFT and was auctioned for 228.69 ethereum or $394k using today’s ether exchange rates. However, not everyone was impressed by the NFT transformation, as the cofounder of myartbroker.com says the NFT sale raises the idea that “the only morons in this transaction are the buyers and stunt artists themselves.
A Burned Banksy Transformed Into an NFT Sells for Close to $400K in Ether
Just recently a collective of unknown art enthusiasts and non-fungible token (NFT) asset fans decided to transform a physical Banksy screenprint into an NFT. News.Bitcoin.com reported on the group who burned the original Banksy piece called “Morons” and explained why the collective called @burntbanksy chose this route.
“The reason behind this is because if we had the NFT and the physical piece, the value would be primarily in the physical piece,” one of the members said before torching the Banksy artwork. “By removing the physical piece from existence and only having the NFT, it makes sure the NFT due to the smart contract on the blockchain will ensure that no one can alter the piece, and it is the true piece that exists in the world.”
After the burning, the NFT was listed on the marketplace Opensea and contained a description of the product for sale. “This 1 of 1 NFT was created upon the burning of the original Pest Control-certified Banksy ‘Morons’ print #325 of 500,” the Opensea listing details. “This is the first-ever authentic Banksy piece being turned into an NFT.” Opensea visitors viewing the NFT listing can also view the original COA on Interplanetary File System (IPFS).
Following the listing, the Banksy “Morons” NFT added to Opensea by the @burntbanksy team was sold to an individual dubbed “Galaxy.” The NFT was auctioned for 228.69 ethereum or $394k using ether exchange rates on Monday, March 8, 2021. The contract of the non-fungible token tethered to the Pest Control-certified Banksy “Morons” print can be seen here on etherscan.io.
Despite the sale being far larger than the physical Banksy print’s worth, a number of critics are skeptical about this new concept.
“Burnt Banksy NFT Sells for $380K in ETH”.
But the profits aren’t going to the artist (since the artwork was already purchased).
The profits are going to the resellers, entirely.
What problem are we fixing again? pic.twitter.com/7HQvTu2k0T
— Roxana Nasoi (The Hat) (@roxananasoi) March 8, 2021
NFT Skeptics Proliferate
First, many believe that the new NFT is no more valuable than a mere screenshot of the famous “Morons” art ripped off the open web for free. There’s also the proof of an actual burn, as the @burntbanksy team performed the burning via a livestream. This begs the question for skeptics, as to how can people legitimately verify that the team actually burned the legitimate print? Another possible scenario is the fact that the notorious England-based street artist, Banksy, did not authorize the burn and following NFT sale. Moreover, what if the infamous prankster street artist Banksy recreated the screenprint of #325 of 500?
Regarding Bansky NFT, there is information loss in the digital. In 100 years, scientist could have studied the ink in the original or did a chemical analysis of the ink or paper– not so with the copy. NFT are interesting but not a fan of burning art. Hope it dont start a trend.
— BeyondBacktesting (@BBacktesting) March 8, 2021
Still, non-fungible token (NFT) proponents believe what the @burntbanksy team did was a watershed moment in digital art history. Some NFT proponents have compared the recent Banksy “Morons” burn transformation into an NFT to Banksy’s recent “Girl with a Balloon” stunt when he shredded half the print at a live auction. After Banksy did this stunt at the live auction, the shredded “Girl with a Balloon” art became even more valuable than the original.
“At first I was shocked, but I realised I would end up with my own piece of art history,” the unnamed “Shredded- Girl with a Balloon” buyer said after the notable Banksy stunt.
However, the cofounder of myartbroker.com, Joey Syer, disagrees with people comparing the two events.
“Last week we lost a genuine Unsigned Banksy print to a stunt that can only be described as brave, yet risky,” Syer explained in an email to news.Bitcoin.com. “Despite the NFT reaching a record price, selling for 300% more than the print’s physical valuation, it triggers the question of whether or not art can still be art when it no longer exists in its physical form,” Syer added. The myartbroker.com executive also compared the NFT to simply saving an existing image on the internet for free.
“The irony behind the stunt is not that an original Banksy was burned, digitised, and sold for £206,292 ($285,000) more than its original value,” Syer insisted. “But that you could right-click on the same image that floods the internet and have your very own version for free. For us, the use of Banksy’s Moron print represents the person/persons willing to pay £275,102 ($380,000) for the same standard of art as a £10 Banksy print off of Etsy.”
‘Burned Banksy NFT No Different Than Any Other Image Publicly Available on the Internet’
As far as comparing the burned Banksy NFT event to the “Girl with a Balloon” shredding, Syer believes the two events are not the same. “The relationship between the NFT Morons stunt and Banksy’s shredding of “Girl with a Balloon” is non-existent and the two events should not be compared,” he said.
Syer’s scathing critique further added:
Although viewed as destroyed, Banksy’s Girl with a Balloon was turned into a piece of artwork in itself, still in its physical form. As for the burnt-up Morons print, nothing sets aside the NFT version to any other image publicly available on the internet, raising the idea that perhaps the only morons in this transaction are the buyers and stunt artists themselves.
The NFT ecosystem has come under fire from lots of crypto advocates criticizing the space. More recently, Jack Dorsey selling an NFT version of his first tweet sparked controversy. Despite the scathing critiques and NFT non-believers, the non-fungible token asset environment continues to grow relentlessly. It will be interesting to see how the recent Banksy burning stunt affects the art industry going forward.
What do you think about the team that burned the Banksy “Morons” screen print? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.