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Masterpiece Meltdown: Why an Artist Vows to Destroy Art by Picasso, Rembrandt and Warhol Worth $45 Million

Artist to Destroy $45 Million of Art If Julian Assange Dies in Prison
Source: MEGA

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, 52, is waiting to hear if he will be extradited to the United States under the Espionage Act.

Feb. 23 2024, Published 2:01 p.m. ET

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A Russian artist residing in France has made a startling declaration to destroy a collection of artwork valued at $45 million in the event of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's death in prison.

Andrei Molodkin, an advocate for Assange, asserts his readiness to annihilate renowned masterpieces as a form of protest.

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The 58-year-old artist has safeguarded the artwork within a 29-ton safe containing an “extremely corrosive” substance aimed at obliterating them.

Molodkin disclosed in an interview with Sky News that the artwork is securely boxed inside the safe, along with a pneumatic pump connecting two barrels: one containing acid powder and the other an accelerant capable of initiating a chemical reaction to incinerate the art.

Currently housed in Molodkin’s studio in southern France, the safe is intended for relocation to an undisclosed museum.

Known for controversial endeavors, Molodkin's past projects include selling blood-soaked copies of Prince Harry's memoir and projecting a sculpture filled with Afghan blood onto St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to challenge Harry's assertions regarding his military service.

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His latest project, titled "Dead Man’s Switch," is devised to honor Assange, referencing the mechanism by which he plans to destroy the artwork. The switch operates on a 24-hour countdown timer, requiring daily confirmation of Assange's well-being from a trusted associate to prevent the release of the corrosive substance.

Molodkin asserted that if Assange were to perish and the art destroyed, he would feel “no emotion because freedom is much more important.”

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However, in the improbable scenario of Assange's release, Molodkin pledged to return the art to its rightful owners.

He underscored the significance of preserving art in a tumultuous era characterized by widespread conflict, juxtaposing it against the erosion of fundamental freedoms.

Assange, currently detained in London’s Belmarsh prison, is undergoing a final appeal against extradition to the United States, where he faces charges under the Espionage Act for his role in disclosing classified information. Supporters fear a lengthy prison sentence if extradition is granted.

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Molodkin's project has garnered support from various quarters, with other artists and galleries contributing to the cause.

Giampaolo Abbondio, an art gallery owner in Milan, provided a Picasso for inclusion in the safe, while artist Franko B donated a piece reflecting themes of freedom and censorship.

Despite Molodkin's discretion regarding the specific artworks contained within the safe, contributions from notable artists such as Rembrandt, Warhol and others, along with Molodkin's own creations, are confirmed.

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