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5,149 NFTs were exchanged for physical paintings, making the remaining digital pieces more scarce than their physical counterparts. 
Damien Hirst fans seem to be divided on whether physical art is more valuable than digital art. 
The burning deadline for the legendary artist’s first NFT collection closed today with just over half of the holders opting to redeem their digital collectible for a corresponding physical piece of art. 5,149 NFTs from the collection were exchanged for physical works, leaving 4,851 NFTs. 
The 10,000-piece collection, dubbed The Currency, launched in July 2021 amid a boom in the NFT market. Created in 2016 and later minted on the Palm blockchain, the collection references the iconic polkadot style that Hirst pioneered. Hirst opted to make his first foray into the digital art space with a unique twist: anyone who bought one of the NFTs could choose to burn their token in exchange for an equivalent physical piece. Conversely, the physical work would be destroyed if the collector held onto their NFT. 
“The Currency explores the boundaries of art and currency—when art changes and becomes a currency, and when currency becomes art,” the promotional copy for The Currency said. The collection went on sale with an entry price of $2,000; today the NFTs are worth the equivalent of around $7,500 on the secondary market (Hirst also rewarded collectors with a Thanksgiving airdrop based on his artwork for Drake’s Certified Lover Boy cover in November). 
Although the collection experimented with determining the value of physical art against digital art, the outcome of the burning event indicates that Hirst collectors in the still-niche NFT market are largely undecided. 
While Hirst’s The Currency was the talk of the NFT space today, the broader market has suffered for months as crypto endures an extended winter period. Trading volumes on marketplaces like OpenSea have plummeted to 12-month lows as confidence in the space wanes and macroeconomic fears persist, while the floor prices for many top-tier collections have slid from their all-time highs alongside fungible crypto assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bored Ape Yacht Club, the breakout star of the 2021 NFT bull run, topped a floor price of $436,000 in May; today the cheapest go for closer to $127,000 (The floor price for an ape has dropped from 156 ETH to 86 ETH, but ETH has also declined in dollar terms). 
Damien Hirst is one of the world’s most renowned artists. He’s arguably best known for his various 1990s works that preserved dead animals, including “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” which featured a 4-meter-long tiger shark in a formaldehyde-filled tank. He’s embraced NFTs since the market exploded in 2021, following up The Currency and its associated airdrop with a new collection called The Empresses earlier this year. 
Editor’s note: The article previously stated that 5,142 NFTs were exchanged for physical works. The piece has been corrected to clarify that 5,149 NFTs were burned. 
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned some Otherside NFTs, ETH, and several other fungible and non-fungible cryptocurrencies. 
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