Chadwick Boseman NFT art getting redesign following post-Oscars outcry

The Oscar nominee was immortalized as a nonfungible token. But not everyone liked the idea of the late actor showing up as art in nominee gift bags.

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3 min read

Chadwick in Gold NFTs were given out in gift bags at the Oscars.

Andre Oshea

The creator of an NFT for art of Chadwick Boseman will redesign the 3D animation following criticism the artist was profiting from the actor's death. 

"This past week has been a huge learning experience for me, and I appreciate all of the feedback on my work, especially from my friends and family," Andre Oshea, the digital artist behind the NFT, wrote on Instagram Monday. "The process of sharing an artwork so publicly has taught me a lot about how to deal with, and listen to criticism, and how to harness it in a positive way." 

Oshea was one of several artists commissioned by media marketing group AdVenture to produce NFT artwork celebrating this year's Oscars nominees, with half the proceeds going to charity and the other half to the artist. In Boseman's case, part of the proceeds will go to the Colon Cancer Foundation in honor of the actor, who died of colon cancer in August 2020 at age 43. The Black Panther star was up for best actor for his role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, but many were surprised when he lost to Anthony Hopkins, who honored the late actor in a video posted to Instagram.

And not everyone liked the idea of an artist making any money off the late actor. 

"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 nominee's gift bags," one Twitter user wrote. The art was in unofficial Everyone Wins gift bags handed out to Oscar nominees. AdVenture makes clear on its website the bags weren't affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. 

"I now recognize that Chadwick's face is a triggering reminder of his death rather than his life, and I will be redesigning the artwork to be auctioned off later this week," Oshea wrote on Instagram. Oshea Boseman influenced him directly as an artist, but didn't say how, exactly, he will redesign the piece. Called Chadwick in Gold, it shows Boseman's rotating head illuminated with colors before being drenched in gold. 

Not everyone opposed the art, however. Some showed their support for the work, and the artist. "As a colon cancer survivor and artist I appreciate your work in the spirit of love and awareness," one Instagram user wrote. "Thank u." 

The piece is being auctioned on online marketplace Rarible

"One way to immortalize an artist, is to honor them with art," Oshea said prior to Sunday's Academy Awards. "Bringing this piece to life has been one of my most challenging and rewarded experiences as an artist."  

NFT, or nonfungible tokens, have become an unbelievably hot trend over the past few months. They're tokens that authenticate the ownership of a piece of digital media, a broad term which can include video clips, tweets, jpegs, gifs and audio files. NFTs are most commonly used to buy pieces of digital art. Most notably, artist Beeple sold a collage of his artworks as an NFT for $69 million.

Boseman became internationally renowned in 2018 for playing the Black Panther superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring in his own film and playing a key role in Avengers: Infinity War and End Game, both of which are in the top five highest grossing films of all time. He also won acclaim -- and awards -- for his supporting role in Spike Lee's Da Five Bloods, and is a favorite at Sunday's Oscars to win best actor for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

In an interview with CNET before Black Panther was released, Boseman described the king of Wakanda as a complicated man. "He has the attributes of a hero, but has difficult decisions, difficult choices. Sometimes there's no right answer. Everybody has heard the line, 'It's hard for a good man to be king.' I think there's a sense of all the complications of being a good leader. At times it feels like The Godfather. It's complicated to do what's right. It's complicated to follow the traditions. It's complicated to do something new. It's complicated when you have to deal with who should live and who should die."

Boseman, who also starred as baseball legend Jackie Robinson and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. He continued to act and told few non-family members of his illness.