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In a First, Damien Hirst to Accept Cryptocurrency as Payment for New Prints

Damien Hirst has made a foray into the fast-rising crypto art market. The British artist is selling a series of eight prints called “The Virtues,” which depict cherry blossoms in bloom, and for those interested in buying them, he is willing to accept cryptocurrency—an unusual gesture for a blue-chip artist.

“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,” the artist wrote on Instagram over the weekend.

Collectors have to act fast, however. The set of prints are only available on on Heni Leviathan, an online marketplace for contemporary art, for one week, with the sale wrapping this Wednesday. Each print is $3,000, and the number of editions has been based on demand.

Each print is named after one of The Eight Virtues of Bushidō, a samurai code of ethics: Justice, Courage, Mercy, Politeness, Honesty, Honor, Loyalty, Control. Few artists of Hirst’s stature have taken advantage of cryptocurrency, a digital form of payment that some art market prognosticators are still having trouble understanding.

Over the past year the speculative market for nonfungible tokens, or NFTs—digital files authenticated by blockchain—has exploded, with its value tripling in 2020, according to the NFT Report 2020, which tracks the value of the market. This month, Christie’s became the first auction house to offer a NFT for sale, a digital collage by popular net artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple. Another work by Beeple, a 10-second video artwork based on the 2020 U.S. presidential election, sold via Nifty Gateway for $6.6 million, making it the most expensive digital work ever auctioned.

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