This past summer, millionaire Martín Mobarak burned an untitled drawing by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. He plans on selling 10,000 copies of the original in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFT) – digital certificates or cryptographic tokens used to record the value of tangible assets. The artwork – in which the words “sinister ghosts” can be read – was valued at $10 million. Mobarak says that his act will transform the world of digital art.
Kahlo’s drawing is one of the items found in her diary, dated between 1944 and 1954. Mobarak – who presents himself as a philanthropist and NFT investor – is the founder of the Frida.NFT initiative. His website states that, by digitizing the destroyed original, Kahlo’s art will be introduced “into the metaverse… [merging] the traditional art world with the digital art world.”
The Mexican millionaire bought the image in 2015 from the Mary-Anne Martin Gallery in New York City. He insists that, with the creation of this NFT, the charities he plans to donate to will get “constant” help. He also admits that his burning of the drawing could be “misunderstood.” However, he still claims that it will lead to the artist’s immortalization.
“Burning the work is going to help create a new group of collectors,” Mobarak explains. He even claims – without any evidence – that, if Frida Kahlo knew the destination of the donations he intends to make, she would have told him to “burn everything.”
Mobarak set the drawing on fire at an event held on July 30 in Miami. Online, the millionaire is now inviting the public to buy into what he considers to be the “most historic NFT in existence.” The sale period will end in November.
Both sides of the drawing were digitized. On the back page, it includes the words “Chromophore” and “Auxochrome” – two scientific terms that the Mexican artist adopted as names for herself and her partner, fellow artist Diego Rivera. In other pages of Kahlo’s diary – which is included in the Frida Kahlo Museum collection in the Mexico City neighborhood of Coyoacán – the painter describes herself as “Chromophore, the one who receives color” and Rivera as “Auxochrome, the one who captures color.”
Mobarak thinks that the work expresses love and pain. Love is reflected by the terms with which Kahlo referred to herself and her partner; pain is embodied by the “sinister ghosts” that, according to the Mobarak, the artist captured to show fear.