A non-fungible token (NFT) created from the original arrest warrant issued by Nelson Mandela has raised 1.9 million rand ($130,000) in an auction to help fund a heritage site that documents South Africa's struggle for democracy.
Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist who emerged from 27 years to become South Africa's first black president, was arrested in 1962 for plotting to overthrow the white minority government.
Ahren Posthumus, CEO of Momint, the NFT Marketplace that sold the Mandela item, said proceeds from the sale will go to the Liliesleaf Heritage Museum site, which received the original document in 2004 as a donation. Last year, the museum received about $50,000 after an NFT auction of a pen pistol owned by fellow freedom fighter Oliver Tambo.
This helps "museum sites stay afloat," Posthumus said in an interview. They have been badly affected by the lack of tourism due to Covid. So this is a way to get it flowing and keep the story alive."
Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and four years later the first multi-ethnic elections were held.
Posthumus said that NFT buyers will have exclusive access to the original document at the Liliesleaf Museum. "The ink is visible through the paper" of the high-resolution scan, he said.
Liliesleaf Farm, which was located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, had been used as the secret headquarters of the African National Congress since 1961 and was where Mandela and other party leaders hid from the authorities. Prominent activists were arrested there during a police raid in 1963.
NFTs have skyrocketed in popularity in recent months, as cartoon monkeys and lions have commanded multi-million dollar price tags. Sports clubs, prestigious automakers and even pop stars are among those entering the fledgling business, which uses blockchain technology to authenticate unique proprietary tokens associated with digital products that can be easily reproduced.
The Bored Apes Yacht Club NFT was also sold at auction for $310,000, Posthumus said.
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