Artist behind Putin NFT will burn Picasso, Rembrandt paintings if Assange dies

A Russian artist who previously created a series of NFTs depicting a bloodsoaked Vladimir Putin says he will destroy Picasso, Rembrandt, and Warhol masterpieces worth $45 million if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange dies in prison.

Andrei Molodkin’s art project ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ has seen him gather 16 famous artworks in a 29-tonne safe along with two barrels filled with an “extremely corrosive” substance.

After 24 hours the barrels are rigged to destroy the art. Only when “someone close” to Assange confirms daily that he is still alive will the timer be reset and the acid kept at bay. If Assange is freed, the art will return to its owners. 

The project is inspired by Assange’s fight against his extradition to the US where he is charged under the Espionage Act and will make his final appeal next week. If unsuccessful, his supporters say he could face 175 years in prison

Sketches of the vault storing the artwork by Andrei Molodkin, shared by Sky News.

“Since Julian Assange has been in prison… freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of information has started to be more and more repressed,” Molodkin told Sky News. He says that if the art was destroyed he would feel “no emotion” as “freedom is much more important.”

Read more: Chris Dixon offers NFT with his ‘bestseller’ — 264 of 5,000 have been claimed

The safe, which will reportedly be sealed this Friday, also houses work from Santiago Sierra, Sarah Lucas, Jannis Kounellis, Jasper Johns, Jake Chapman, Molodkin himself, and others. Molodkin hasn’t disclosed what specific pieces are in the vault. 

NFT artworks and web3 rallies 

Molodkin previously created a series of 24 NFTs depicting Vladimir Putin covered in blood in support of Ukraine’s defense in the war against Russia. Each NFT is said to be dedicated to a city in Ukraine bombed by Russia. 

“Exposed on the tanks of Red Square on victory day through augmented reality, the work has evolved into the metaverse,” the collection states, while adding that the money raised from the collection will be given to UNICEF to help fund blood transfusions.

Julian Assange also appeared at a virtual ‘metaverse’ protest last year described as a web3 political rally where participants protested against his extradition to the US. 

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