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Mexico investigates art collector who burned Frida Kahlo drawing to sell NFTs

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Mexico's national cultural authority has opened an investigation into an art collector who burned an allegedly authentic Frida Kahlo drawing at his Miami home to sell NFTs of the work.

Martín Mobarak, the collector, burned the $10 million art piece at an event complete with a mariachi band, flame throwers and models on July 30. The collector shared a video from the event online, which shows the 1944 drawing from one of Frida Kahlo's diaries burning into a martini glass.

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The National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature told Hyperallergic in a statement that Mobarak may have violated federal laws with the stunt and did not seek required permissions to replicate the drawing.

Frida Kahlo's body of work was designated a national monument in 1984 which makes its destruction illegal and the reproduction rights for her work are owned by the Bank of Mexico, according to INBAL.

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Officials also questioned the authenticity of the work, though Mobarak linked to a document providing a certificate of authenticity on a website set up to sell the NFTs.

Each NFT of the drawing is selling for 3 Ethereum, a cryptocurrency valued at around $1,300 per token, and buyers will receive high-resolution digital files with the front and back of the drawing as well animated GIFs and short movie loops for displaying on digital frames.

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Some of the proceeds are expected to be donated to health and arts organizations including the Autism Society, the Children's Craniofacial Association, Mexico City's Frida Kahlo Museum and the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas.

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"I made this profound act for children and the less fortunate around the world to receive hope," Mobarak said in a statement to Hyperallergic.

Mobarak told Vice News that he bought the 9-inch-by-6-inch drawing, which features "sinister ghosts," in 2015 from a private collector and that it has been sitting in his safe ever since.

"People may see it as I destroyed it. But I didn't," Mobarak told Vice News. "This way I am bringing it to the world. I am letting everybody see it. I think it does more good for the world and makes a statement rather than just sitting in someone's private collection."

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Art experts criticized Mobarak for burning the drawing, which would be the best way to verify if it was real or a fake.

"He destroyed the evidence that would determine whether it was real or not. Isn't that convenient?" James Oles, a specialist in Latin American art at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, told Vice News.

The burning of Frida Kahlo's drawing comes as artists and others have moved to destroy original artworks that have been sold as NFTs.

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British artist Damien Hirst last year sold 10,000 paintings, each which had a corresponding NFT. Hirst gave buyers the chose of having the NFT or the original artwork, which would be burned if they chose the NFT.

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