Jimmy Cauty doesn’t give a shit about Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT for short) but then again, he doesn’t really give a shit about money either. He cares about art.
What other possible reason could he and Bill Drummond have had for travelling to the Scottish Island of Jura in 1994, building a bonfire out of a million pounds in cold hard cash, and setting fire to it. Throwing more bundled wads of notes into the flames throughout an hour long video.
One million pounds. Up in smoke. Jesus Christ.
People were furious. Outraged. This was Britain in the early 1990s - we were in a recession, and scarcely two years had passed since the country was forced, ashamed, out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.
Times were tough, and watching two rich geezers destroying more money than most Brits would ever see in their lives was a pure insult. The Crow didn’t care because he was 14, and on a bit of an anti-capitalist trip anyway.
It was hella cool and a bold move from the men behind the KLF. For them, it was all about the art, and to this day, neither Bill nor Jimmy have given any kind of logical explanation as to why. They have also insisted that it was actual money, taken from their actual bank accounts (spoiler alert).
“There were a lot of reasons why, and we’re still discovering the reasons everyday,” Bill Drummond told an interview at the time. “We needed the money. We wanted the money, but we wanted to burn it more.”
But there is such as thing as having your cake and eating it too. This is the third decade of the 21st century, and thanks to the ludicrous (and in The Crow’s opinion, daft) phenomenon of Non Fungible Tokens, it’s possible to burn one million pounds in 1994, and then sell it for more than one million in 2021. Weird right.
To save my poor, tired fingers from having to type out some bullshit explanation of what NFTs are, here’s a summary from Wikipedia, followed by a couple of recent News snippets.
"Non-fungible tokens are used to create verifiable artificial scarcity in the digital domain, as well as digital ownership, and the possibility of asset interoperability across multiple platforms. Although an artist can sell one or more NFTs representing a work, the artist can still retain the copyright to the work represented by the NFT."
Does that sound like a steaming pile to you? It sounds like a steaming pile to me. But Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold for millions last week.
The Tweet still exists on Twitter and can be retweeted, and as far as we’re aware, Jack Dorsey still holds the copyright on it. Prices have been going up since then, and even crappy memes have been sold for hundreds of thousands.
How does this relate to Jimmy Cauty - aka Rockman Rock, Pablo P Casio, and Scourge of the Earth, co-founder of The Orb and as the man who burnt £1 million.
It comes down to the video.
It was recorded in 1994 and as such, the original is likely to be on VHS, but has been digitised (or at least recorded from the TV) and various copies are available on YouTube.
As a piece of art, it’s unique, and as part of an NFT blockchain, it is potentially worth hundreds of Millions. You think this is bullshit? It’s not.
So late on Wednesday night (after a few Desperados), The Crow sent an email to Jimmy, asking him about it.
“Would you and Bill Drummond be inclined to cash in on the current weirdness, or would you let it pass you by and keep on doing your own weird thing?”
Rather than editorialising, here’s his reply straight:
“I think if I was going to invent a new art world from the ground up I would fix the value of all art at a set price, this price would be based on the number of hours spent making the art but set at the same rate as a plumbers emergency call out charge so in London that would be say £50-£100 per hour.”
"Gimpo money burning film took just over one hour to shoot so the value would be set at £100.00"
“If a situation arises where two or more people are bidding on the same work of art the difference between the actual worth ( £100.00) and the final amount bid £1m ( £999,900 ) would be deducted and destroyed in a controlled explosion.”
“As you can see I haven’t really thought this out properly.”
So I think we can take that answer as a no - Jimmy and Bill aren’t going to cash in on the EFT nonsense.
And yes, I could have built this article around the fact that Jimmy Cauty just revealed that the million quid was actually “Gimpo money.”
But where’s the fun in that?
Side note: The Crow is 90% convinced that Jimmy Cauty is actually Banksy..
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