A Mexican-Lebanese businessman is facing possible criminal charges after he set fire to a $10 million sketch of Frida Kahlo, who was “transformed to live forever in the digital realm,” in a stunt to sell NFTs “.
Martin Mobarak, 57, burned the 1944 watercolor, crayon, pencil and ink drawing “Fantasmones Siniestros” or “Massive Sinister Ghosts” in July.
The Miami-based entrepreneur, who made his fortune on the dot-com boom in the early 1990s, threw a lavish party at his home to celebrate the launch of Frida.NFT.
Amid models whizzing down a makeshift poolside catwalk, surrounded by heavily armed security guards and clad in a blazer with Kahlo’s face in sequins, Mobarak ceremoniously removed the sketch from a gold frame.
Then he put it in a martini glass and lit it.
Martin Mobarak, a 57-year-old Mexican-Lebanese businessman, threw a party at his Miami home in July, where he burned a Frida Kahlo sketch (pictured) in a martini glass
The 1944 sketch is titled “Fantasmones Siniestros” or “Massive Dark Spirits”.
Mobarak now faces possible criminal charges over the stunt
“I had to do something drastic to get attention,” he told the New York Times on Tuesday.
He planned to sell 10,000 NFTs for $4,000, but so far only four have been sold, the newspaper reported, for less than $11,200.
However, Mobarak was jubilant, stating, “Like a phoenix rising from its ashes, this collection of 10,000 NFTs represents the rebirth and immortality of a timeless piece.”
However, art experts and the Mexican government were less amused.
On September 26, Mexican heritage authorities said they had launched a criminal investigation into Mobarak’s actions, meaning he could face decades in prison and a fine equal to the cost of the artwork.
Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL) is investigating whether he committed a federal crime by destroying an original Kahlo artwork — or if he actually burned a fake.
Burning a fake would also get Mobarak in trouble as he has been selling NFTs of the drawing which he insists is genuine.
“If he actually burned it, he’s breaking a law,” said Leila Amineddoleh, an attorney specializing in arts and heritage law.
The sketch is a watercolour, with pencil, ink and colored pencil. It was valued at $10 million
“And if he hasn’t, if it’s a reproduction, he may have infringed copyright.”
“And if he fraudulently copied the original, it could be fraud.”
Gregorio Luke, a former Mexican diplomat and former director of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, added, “I think this man should be put in prison.”
The real sketch was sold by Mary-Anne Martin, a renowned Latin American art dealer, to a foundation in 2004 and again to a private collector in 2013.
Mobarak told the Miami Herald he bought the drawing from a private collector in 2015 and insists the one he burned was real.
He said he gives back a portion of the proceeds from NFT sales to charity.
“If Frida Kahlo were alive today, I would bet my life that if I asked to burn a small piece of her diary to bring smiles and a better quality of life to children, she would say, ‘Do it go ahead and do it. I’ll light the fire,” he claimed.
Mobarak made his living in the 1990s dot-com boom and now lives in Miami, where he works with Bitcoin and NFTs
Artworks by Kahlo, who died in 1954 at the age of 47, are considered national treasures.
INBAL officially designated Kahlo’s work as an “artistic monument” in 1984.
“In Mexico, the willful destruction of an artistic monument constitutes a crime under the federal Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Monuments and Zones Act,” INBAL said in a statement.
The Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan, a Mexico City suburb, also condemned the stunt – pointing out that they own the rights to all of Kahlo’s and her husband Diego Rivera’s work and would not have given permission for an NFT.
The Trust, which owns all of her works, often takes legal action against the use of her likeness and artwork.
‘[The museum] disclaims any intention to support the museum arising from the alleged destruction of our country’s cultural heritage, as well as existence of any connection with the collector and his activities,” the museum said in a statement.
Mobarak, asked by the New York Times if the burn was a mistake, was noncommittal.
“I like to say I have no regrets,” he said.
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/uncategorized/nft-fanatic-martin-mobarak-under-investigation-after-burning-10million-frida-kahlo-drawing/ NFT fanatic Martin Mobarak under investigation after burning $10m Frida Kahlo