Nelson Mandela’s arrest warrant has been minted as a non-fungible token (NFT) and sold for the equivalent of $130,000 by a museum.
The 1.9 million rand raised by the auction of the NFT will go towards supporting the Liliesleaf Museum Heritage Site, which documents South Africa’s struggle for democracy.
The original document, issued in 1962, which landed Mandela in prison for 27 years for his anti-apartheid activism, had been donated to the museum in 2004.
Following his release in 1990, Mandela helped play an instrumental role in the ending of apartheid and became the first black president of South Africa in 1994.
According to Ahren Posthumus, CEO of the auctioning NFT marketplace Momint, ownership of the NFT grants exclusive access to the original document at Liliesleaf Museum. Regarding the quality of the NFT, Posthumus said that “the ink is visible through the paper.”
No stranger to NFTs, the museum raised $50,000 last year from the sale of an NFT of a pen gun that had been owned by fellow freedom fighter Oliver Tambo.
The sales have helped “museum sites stay afloat,” Posthumus said. “They have been badly affected by the lack of tourism due to COVID-19,” he added. “So this is a way to revitalize their flow and keep history alive.”
The original site of the museum, Liliesleaf Farm, had been a secret headquarters for the African National Congress from 1961 onwards. Although Mandela and other party leaders had used the site to hide from authorities, many leading activists were arrested there during a raid by police in 1963.
NFTs in decline
While cultural institutions continue to find innovative ways to harness the new technology, sales volumes for NFTs have actually been in decline. From an average of 376,000 last month, daily NFT sales have fallen to 100,000 in the past week, according to data from NonFungible.
According to crypto analytics firm Nansen, one-third of NFT collections are considered “dead” due to the minimal amount of transactions. The data also revealed that some have also dropped below their launch value, and are now trading below their mint price. Many in the space have attributed the decline to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.