Rapper Ja Rule is selling a physical painting from his Fyre Festival days as crypto art

Flipkick Fyre Fest painting

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Ja Rule is getting into the NFT space. The rapper plans to sell a piece of art that once hung at Fyre Media’s headquarters in New York City.

Ja Rule has stored the artwork, by painter Tripp Derrick Barnes, since the epic collapse of Fyre Media in 2017. He told Insider he was originally going to sell the oil painting — which has a black background and a colorful flame with the word “fyre” below it — on eBay.

“I just wanted the bad energy gone,” he said in an interview Monday. 

He was instead convinced to sell it as an NFT. He joined a group of software engineers launching a platform called Flipkick that plans to sell physical and digital art as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, which are generally digital assets that operate as a type of collector’s item and can’t be duplicated.

Flipkick’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Testagrossa explained to Ja Rule how NFTs work, and the rapper joined the company as a partner, making his piece one of the first sold.

“For me, it’s out with the old and in with the new,” he said. “It’s definitely a way to start this particular company with a piece of pop culture.”

The Fyre painting will go on sale Tuesday at noon Eastern, along with three other physical works of art, which are circuit board sculptures by New York City-based mixed-media artist Ben Katz, a painting by French New York-based artist Lady Jday, and woven sculptures by Canadian design workshop Studio Dan, a spokesperson said in an email. 

Read more: Here are 4 NFT startups transforming the way we buy art and sports memorabilia

Usually, NFTs monetize digital works of art, such as the collection by Beeple which sold for $69 million last week. But Flipkick is monetizing physical works of art using cryptocurrency, and it’s one of few to do so.

The company will authenticate the physical works by adding a cryptographically secure link to the NFT. Once the NFT is sold at auction, the buyer can resell it, or choose to redeem the token for the physical work of art. In this case, the buyer of the Fyre artwork could redeem the token to instead hang the physical piece at home. Though the token is burned at that point, the link on the work itself will “forever cryptographically authenticate the physical piece,” the company said. 

“Flipkick is really, really dope in what they’re doing,” Ja Rule said. “It’s different from any other NFT out there.”

Ja Rule’s career has had its twists and turns. The rapper, from Queens, New York, released back-to-back top-selling albums in the early 2000s. In 2007, he went to prison for criminal possession of a weapon, and a few years later, in another case, he came to a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service after not filing taxes for five years.

In 2016, he founded Fyre Media with Billy McFarland, who was later convicted of fraud after Fyre Festival turned out to be a nightmare. In a tweet following the event, in which thousands of people were temporarily stranded, Ja Rule said the Fyre Festival disaster wasn’t his fault. A judge later dismissed him from a class-action lawsuit, saying plaintiffs couldn’t prove the rapper’s social media posts led to them buying tickets for the event, which was advertised as a luxury concert experience on a remote island, The Guardian reported.

Shortly after the festival collapsed, memorabilia sold for hundreds of dollars apiece. Ja Rule said he’s not sure how much the artwork from the Fyre Media office will sell for as an NFT. But in a note, he said “F*** this painting” and offered to sign it for the buyer.

The rapper said he wants his next NFT to be his album “Pain is Love 2,” which came out before he went to prison and was “overlooked,” he said. The rapper owns the remaining physical copies of the album and wants people to be able to “feel and touch” it, he said. 

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