Nelson Mandela Prison Watercolours to be Sold as NFTs

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Paintings produced by former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, during his time at Robben Island prison are being digitalized and sold as NFTs. The collection, which is titled ‘My Robben Island’ will consist of five watercolours and a handwritten note created by the iconic anti-apartheid hero.

The NFTs will be sold via the Nifty Gateway platform by fine art auctioneer Bonhams on March 9th. Onlooking purchasers can either buy one of the individual works for $699, or buy the whole collection for $3,495. The sale will take place for six hours, with the amount of NFTs sold to determine the size of the My Robben Island collection (with there being a maximum of 10,000 to be issued). 

The watercolours, which were painted in 2002 as a therapeutic activity under the guidance of art teacher Verenka Paschke, will depict various elements of Mandela’s 18 year stay on Robben Island. Such works include the ‘The Cell,’ which shows the interior space Mandela spent much of his time in (which has since became a place of pilgrimage for many), ‘The Window,’ which outlines Table Mountain sitting in the backdrop of distinct orange cell bars, and ‘The Harbour,’ which is the image of the prison which new inmates initially see as they arrive on the island via boat.

‘The Lighthouse’ and ‘The Church’ are paintings of two other Robben Island landmarks, both of which were buildings which inmates were barred from. ‘The Motivation,’ which is a handwritten text that explains Mandela’s visualization of the island prison, will also be included in the collection, and all six digital works will come with Mandela’s signature.

Makaziwe Mandela, the daughter of the former president, describes the collection as a triumph of the human spirit due to her father being unbeknownst as to whether he’ll ever be released when producing the works. Mandela has since said that she hopes for some of the money raised in the NFT sale will go towards paying for a memorial garden being created in the village of Qunu, where her father is buried.

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