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Businessman who said he burned a $10m Frida Kahlo drawing is under criminal investigation

The art collector allegedly destroyed the work to promote an NFT collection

Abe Asher
Friday 30 September 2022 01:17 BST
Frida Kahlo self-portrait sells for $34.9 million – a record for a Latin American artist

An art collectour and entrepreneur is under criminal investigation in Mexico after allegedly burning a Frida Kahlo drawing to draw attention to an NFT collection.

Martín Mobarak said he had burned a drawing torn from the pages of one of Kahlo’s diaries that was believed to be worth $10m in order to promote the 10,000 NFTs he created of the piece.

The Mexican authorities, however, do not seem to have appreciated the stunt.

“In Mexico, the deliberate destruction of an artistic monument constitutes a crime in terms of the federal law on archaeological, artistic and historical monuments and zones,” Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature stated in reference to the incident.

The martini glass with Kahlo’s drawing in it. The drawing was then set on fire. (Twitter Alex Valdes)

Much about the entire saga remains unclear. Mr Mobarak, who is the founder of the company Frida.NFT, placed the drawing known as Fantasmones Siniestros in a martini glass and set it on fire in a public demonstration at his mansion in Miami in July while a mariachi band played in the background.

A video of the event posted on YouTube begins with a page of text that includes a quote from Mr Mobarak in which he states that “I am proud to say this event will solve some of the world’s biggest problems in honor of Frida Kahlo.”

The text also states that the burning of the drawing, by Mexico’s most celebrated artist, was done to “revolutionize” the art world as well as for “unfortunate children, battered women and other less fortunate around the world to recieve hope.”

The event included speakers and entertainment.

Mr Mobarak has reportedly said that his NFT pursuit is a charitable venture and that he plans to donate proceeds to charitable ventures — including several organizations in his hometown of Mexico City. The NFTs are currently priced at roughly $4,000.

There is some question, however, as to whether the drawing he burned was actually done by Kahlo. The great Mexican artist illustrated Fantasmones Siniestros in 1944 and made it a gift to the Venezuelan art critic Juan Röhl. The drawing was eventually acquired by the New York gallery Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art in 2003, and then was sold several times since.

Mr Mobarak toldVICE News that he purchased the drawing from a private collector in 2015. Ms Martin, who has sold the drawing twice, said that she had never heard of Mr Mobarak, let alone sold him the drawing, and that the entire saga was “creepy.”

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