The Basquiat family estate says they still own license and rights to the piece.
The weird wide world of non-fungible tokens is gaining steam, and its getting pretty disturbing. On Tuesday Daystrom, an anonymously-owned firm self-described as “digital provocateurs,” announced an upcoming non-fungible token auction of an original Jean-Michel Basquiat drawing from 1986. The winner of the auction was to be given the option to destroy the original drawing, in order to make the NFT “the last remaining form” of the work.
On Wednesday, however, the Basquiat estate intervened, revealing that the NFT was made without ownership of the license or rights to the drawing. “The estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat owns the copyright in the artwork referenced,” said David Stark, licensing agent of Basquiat’s archive. “No license or rights were conveyed to the seller and the NFT has subsequently been removed from sale.”
The drawing, Free Comb with Pagoda, was bought privately in 2015 for an undisclosed amount. Daystrom says the piece was authenticated by the estate in 2002, and that the current owner has “proof of purchase and payment to substantiate exclusive ownership.” In 2012, Texas’ Heritage Auctions offered the piece for between $80,000 and $120,000. On the OpenSea marketplace, bidding opened at one unit of the cryptocurrency Ethereum, currently worth over $2,600.
“Value has become increasingly fungible, diluted and unstable in our evolving metaverse,” Daystrom’s owners said in a statement. “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.”
Earlier this year, an original Banksy piece was sold for about $380,000 in an NFT auction, then immediately burned in a live-streamed ceremony. The piece, Morons, is ironically a critique of the art market itself, depicting an auctioneer at Christie’s New York auction house.
The eventual buyer will have the transation minted on the Ethereum blockchain to “memorialise ownership” of the piece. Founders say the auction winner will receive reproduction and intellectual property rights in perpetuity.
Stay tuned for further updates on the Basquiat non-fungible token auction.