Entrepreneur Martin Mobarak has generated great controversy and outrage in the art world internationally. The reason? He set fire to the work Fantasmones sinisteros by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo to turn it into NTFs. The piece was valued at 10 million dollars, about 200 million Mexican pesos, and now it is just a handful of ashes.
The burning took place during a private event at the businessman’s residence, located in Miami, Florida. Mobarak took the Sinister Ghosts drawing out of a sleeve, removed the frame that protected it, and placed it in a glass of dry ice. Immediately afterward, the flames were lit. While the work was burning, among the applause of those present, the song “Cielito Lindo” began to play, performed by live mariachis.
The big party, which included a fashion show and other shows, welcomed art collectors, designers, digital artists, and representatives of charities. Although it took place on July 30, the images of the event began to circulate just a few days ago, causing great controversy.
“Turning this work into an NFT is the way in which we can immortalize the works and her life, we are making the bridge between traditional art and new art, which is digital art (…) Frida was a person who liked to give It is something that is going to generate controversy, with this we can ensure the success of this project”, said the businessman in an interview.
Is Frida Kahlo’s drawing worth more as an NFT than a physical one?
On the Frida.nft site, Martin Mobarak explains that he bought the piece for $10 million in 2015 from the Mary Anne Martin gallery. Sinister Ghosts is a drawing made by Frida Kahlo in 1944 in her personal diary. On the page, you can find documents such as the certificate of authenticity and the work study, which guarantee its legitimacy.
For his project, he digitized the artwork front and back in PNG format, to preserve as much fidelity as possible. Subsequently, it converted the file into an NFT and generated 10,000 pieces of blockchain code, each with a unique content record that ensures its authenticity.
After learning that businessman Martin Mobarak incinerated a work valued at USD 10 million to market it as crypto art, the Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts launched an investigation for “deliberate destruction of an artistic monument”
The National Institute of Fine Arts Arts and Literature of Mexico reported that it is investigating and compiling “all the necessary information, in order to establish with certainty” what happened to the work.
Within the Mexican legal framework, there is a decree by which all of Kahlo’s work was declared an artistic monument and, in a statement reproduced by local media, the entity recalled that in Mexico “the deliberate destruction of an artistic monument constitutes a crime in terms of the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Zones”.
However, the businessman chose to defend himself by arguing that thanks to having burned the drawing, the national heritage will grow. According to his estimates, the NFTs will be bought through ETH (Ethreum), a cryptocurrency worth $1,361, and each NFT will be sold for 3 ETH, raising more than about $40 million.
If the accounts were correct, some institutions could benefit from this action, such as the Frida Kahlo House Museum, the Palace of Fine Arts and the National School of Plastic Arts. However, the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature of Mexico denied the possibility that these public institutions will receive any donation from said collector and recalled that the Bank of Mexico is a trustee in the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museum Trust, “in his capacity as owner of the patrimonial rights of the works”.
In the same text, the institute dependent on the Mexican Government clarifies that it “will abide by what is established” in the terms of the Federal Law on Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Monuments and Zones (Lfmzaah), its Regulations and the Decree “by which it is declared a monument artistic all the work of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo Calderón”. This protected set includes the easel work, the graphic work, the engravings and the technical documents that are property of the nation or of individuals, published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on July 18, 1984.
“Sinister Ghosts” (1944) by the artist Frida Kahlo, valued at USD 10 million (Photo: screenshot/Frida.nft)
Mobarak purchased the 2015 image from the New York gallery Mary Anne Martin. He admits that the burning of the drawing is a “strong” part and that “it can be misunderstood”, but for him, it is a process to lead the artist to an “immortalization”, “Burning the work will help create the funds”, said the founder, who believes that, if the artist knew the destination of the funds, he would have told her to “burn everything”. Mobarak set the drawing on fire at an event held on July 30 in Miami and from his website invites the public to buy what, according to him, is the “most historic NFT in existence” in November.