Painted version of NFT sending a freedom message about Cuba sells for $250,000

Marshington, a multimedia work that depicted the faces of Jose Marti and George Washington by Cuban filmmaker and artist Asiel Babastro that was exhibited during Art Basel, has been sold for $250,000. 

Babastro is a Cuban exile who directed the video clip “Patria y Vida,” a song that became the anthem of freedom during the July 11 protests in Cuba. 

The painting was displayed at the 4th Annual Fashion Showcase & Latin American Art & Photography Exhibition in Wynwood, where the artist also launched his clothing brand Babastro X Yas, a collaboration with his wife, the Cuban-American fashion designer Yas Gonzalez. 

The multimedia work, which was also offered as an NFT (non-fungible token) illustrates the figures of Cuba’s national hero, Martí, and founding father of the United States, Washington. A facsimile was shown at the opening of the “Patria y Vida” video. Marti appears on the Cuban peso as Washington does on the $1 bill.

“I share the unfinished process of an image that I built for this song of struggle in Cuba,” Babastro wrote in an essay called “Introduction to a Faith Symbol.” “My first NFT describes the incessant search of the imaginary that represents us here and now.”

The digital creation was first unveiled last November during the Atlas Society’s Fifth Annual Fundraising Gala in Malibu, California, where well-known people from the business industry such as Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR and Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal appeared. 

The work suggests the feelings of an artist who has only nostalgia for his homeland and who is in constant pursuit of the transcendence of his art. Babastro came to the United States about two years ago for a fashion show, intending to return home. His wife was already here, but the rest of the family remained on the island.

After he became involved with the “Patria y Vida” video, he was prohibited from visiting Cuba again.   

Artist and visual creator Asiel Babastro during the Art Basel Week. Photo courtesy of Asiel Babastro.

Of the “Marshington,” American visual artist Coco Fusco wrote: “The new work by Asiel Babastro, which melds the faces of José Martí and George Washington, adds a plastic dimension to this transnational vision of the history and development of the two countries, whose pasts and futures are inextricably linked.” 

Cuban poet Legna Rodrigues Iglesias called the work: “poetic diaspora with a compound name.”  

The sale was completed toward the end of Art Basel. Babastro is presently offering the NFT of “Marshington” for $ 2,485 ETH on Open Sea, a crypto-digital asset trading platform. 

The visual creator said that “Marshington” is part of a 12 to 15 painting series. The exhibition will include other representations of the “Patria y Vida” video.

In his “Introduction to a Faith Symbol” essay, Babastro concluded: “Where does exiled art go? What is its value for the country where it is made and the country for which it is born? The metaverse will answer those questions, then the borders will become blockchains… without destiny or shape.” 

Claudia Morales is a junior FIU student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Digital Communications/Broadcasting. She obtained an associates degree in Mass Communications/Journalism from Miami Dade College. She served as a photographer for The Reporter, the student newspaper at Miami Dade College. She also studied abroad in France and Italy, where she acquired knowledge about globalized media.