An NFT version of an arrest warrant for anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has raised $130,550 at auction, with proceeds going towards a museum preserving the history of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.
South Africa’s first democratic, black president was arrested on August 5, 1962, and later jailed for 27 years.
The reserve price at the Saturday night auction in Cape Town was 900,000 rand ($61,800), but the non-fungible tokens or NFT, “sold for 1.9 million ($130,550) via a buyer online,” Ahren Posthumus, CEO of the digital auctioneer Momint said on Sunday.
The buyer was a foreigner, based in the United Arab Emirates.
“Proceeds for the Mandela NFT will go to Liliesleaf museum, to keep their doors open and stay afloat,” Posthumus told AFP.
Liliesleaf shuttered its doors in September 2021 due to financial difficulties.
Selling art as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, uses the same technology as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The buyer receives a verified digital token, which proves the artwork is original.
“This is really a unique and novel way of generating income,” Liliesleaf Farm museum founder, Nicholas Wolpe told AFP.
The original document, dated 1961, now yellowed, with gnarled edges and bearing staple holes on one side, is handwritten in both English and Afrikaans.
It has been kept at the Liliesleaf Farm heritage site archives in Johannesburg since around 2006, said Wolpe.
Between 1961 and 1963, the landmark farm in an upscale northern Johannesburg suburb served as the secret headquarters and nerve centre of the then banned African National Congress, which led the fight against white-minority rule.
Mandela hid there for some time under the guise of a farm worker, dressing in overalls, before leaving to raise funds abroad.