In a piece of accessory drama befitting the surreal pandemic edition of the Oscars, an NFT of Chadwick Boseman is undergoing a redesign following the late actor’s loss in the Best Actor category during this past Sunday’s awards ceremony. The multiple layers to this controversy were succinctly summed up by one person on social media in a tweet that read, “Idk what’s worse the fact that it’s an Nft, the fact that Chadwick Boseman’s death is being commodified, or that this is in every Oscar nominees’ gift bags.” According to Deadline, that last bit isn’t entirely accurate—the NFT was only included in some of the notoriously luxe gift bags handed out to attendees each year.
Andre Oshea was one of the artists hired—not by the Academy, for what it’s worth—to design the NFT, or non-fungible token (if you don’t know what it is, Vice has like 700 articles about it), which features a digital golden sculpture of Boseman’s head, intended to commemorate the late actor and his presumed post-mortem Oscar win for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. To be somewhat fair to the artist here, Boseman—who passed away last year at the age of 43—had previously won the Golden Globe, SAG, and Critics Choice awards for his performance, leading many to believe he’d win the Oscar. In addition, one of the Boseman NFTs was reserved for an upcoming auction, with the intention to donate half the proceeds (expected to be more than $1 million) to the Colon Cancer Foundation in Boseman’s honor. Even the producers of Sunday’s telecast bet on a Boseman win; the Best Actor category was moved to the end of the show. And then the Oscar went to Anthony Hopkins for his performance in The Father.
On Monday, Oshea issued a statement via Instagram in which he apologized “for any upset caused,” and attempted to clear up some misinformation around the NFT, which he says was not included in the Oscars gift bags (Glenn Close, please advise). “I now recognize that Chadwick’s face is a triggering reminder of his death rather than his life,” Oshea said, adding that he’s still committed to auctioning the NFT—following a redesign—and donating half the proceeds to the Colon Cancer Foundation.