Thursday, 8 Dec 2022

Millionaire under investigation after burning Frida Kahlo drawing

A millionaire is under investigation after video circulated of him burning a Frida Kahlo drawing at an NFT launch event for his company.

Martin Mobarak, a Mexican-American CEO, is under investigation by Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL) after burning the piece of artwork at a launch event in Miami on July 30.

All of Kahlo’s artwork, including her paintings, drawings, and documents, are considered an ‘artistic monument’ in her home country, including pieces owned by private collectors.

‘The deliberate destruction of an artistic monument constitutes a crime in terms of the Federal Law on Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Monuments and Zones,’ INBAL said to Spanish and Basque language site Naiz.

Mobarak burned the drawing at a launch event for his company, Frida.NFT. The company says it will use blockchain technology to ‘reform the charity industry through increased transparency, donation frequency, and donor incentive,’ according to its website.

‘I am proud to say that this event will help solve some of the worlds [sic] biggest problems,’ a title card reads before the video.

Frida.NFT names several charities on its website, including the National Autism Society, the Children’s Craniofacial Association, the Frida Kahlo Museum, and the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.

However, it is unclear if any of these charitable organizations were involved directly with the event.

The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums Trust never received a request or issued a reproduction of the work for the event, Naiz reported.

The Palace of Fine Arts also said they received no money from Mobarak or Frida.NFT.

In the video, posted by the company to its own YouTube channel, models are photographed poolside at a Miami mansion party, while musicians perform and speakers address a small crowd.

‘What we are going to do today here is going to change the lives of thousands of children, and I hope that everyone is here and understanding,’ Mobarak says to the crowd. ‘I hope that everyone can see the positive side and the legacy that this is going to be.’

Upbeat dance music switches to a dramatic orchestral score as the drawing is escorted into the party by a guard wearing a military-style tactical vest.

Mobarak then removes the drawing from its frame and places it in a martini-glass shaped holder before lighting it on fire. Mariachi music plays in the background as the the drawing crumples into dust.

The company is now selling 10,000 NFTs of the drawing as what it calls ‘the only authentic connection to the masterpiece.’

Frida.NFT said owners of the new NFT could join them for another ‘historic event’ in November 2022.

Mobarak purchased the drawing for $10,000,000 in 2015 from the Mary Anne Martin Gallery in New York. The rest of Kahlo’s diary is stored at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán.

Metro.co.uk has reached out to the gallery for further comment.

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