A businessman is under investigation and facing possible charges after burning a sketch by the artist Frida Kahlo to promote the sale of NFTs based on it. Martin Mobarak burned the 1944 drawing, valued at $10 million, at a Miami party in a martini glass.

The Kahlo sketch was called ‘Fantasmones Siniestros’, or ‘Sinister Ghosts’, dated from 1944, and was a crayon, pencil and ink drawing showing a surreal conglomeration of creatures. The Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature is now investigating whether Mobarak did burn an original Kahlo and thus committed a federal crime. Kahlo’s work has been protected under Mexican law since 1984 as “artistic monuments”, and the punishment could be decades in prison plus a fine equivalent to the work’s value.

The Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan also put out a statement condemning the act, and pointed out it owned the rights to all of Kahlo’s works, and had not given any permissions for an NFT being made. It called the stunt the “destruction of the cultural heritage of our country” and said it had no ties to “the collector and his activities”.

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