Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

The internet is in an uproar after an NFT of the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman was reportedly handed out in gift bags following the 93rd Academy Awards. After the lauded actor received posthumous honours for best actor at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards, fans surmised that Boseman would be recognised similarly with an Oscar.  A surprising upset by Anthony Hopkins for his performance in The Father left many dismayed. Now, the internet is wondering why the use of Boseman’s image and likeness was so prominent at the ceremony without comparable recognition? 

In response to an announcement of the NFT (a non-fungible token that is redeemed via a blockchain) being placed in the nominee gift bags, one Twitter user wrote: “Idk what’s worse the fact that it’s an Nft, the fact that Chadwick Boseman’s death is being commodified, or that this in every Oscar nominees’ gift bags.” On Monday, April 26, another user tweeted, “To be clear this is infinitely more gross than the snub.”

The NFT found in the gift bags was a 3D digital bronze sculpture of Boseman’s appearance in his titular role in the 2018 blockbuster Black Panther. Distinctive Assets company, which provided the gift bags, is not affiliated with the Oscars, so the awards show is not responsible for directly commissioning the artwork.  The digital tribute was created by 3D animator Andre Oshea, whose specialty in Afrofuturism is where he drew inspiration to create the NFT with elements of the film’s futuristic themes. 

Oshea took to Instagram to address the widespread controversy, dispel misinformation that swiftly circulated across social media, and formally apologise. “I want you all to know that I’ve listened, heard and taken it all in as an artist and I apologise for any upset caused,” Oshea wrote. He went on to clarify that he was tasked to produce artwork to commemorate Boseman, “which was not included in the gift bags given to the winners but was set to be auctioned off as a single 1/1 NFT.” The artist is now redesigning the piece after recognising that his original “was a triggering reminder of [Boseman’s] death rather than his life.”

Oshea is still planning to auction off the product on Rareable, where it is expected to net over $1 million. The piece will be auctioned off and 50% of the proceeds will be going to the Colon Cancer Foundation in honour of Boseman who passed away from the disease at the age of 43 last August. The proceeds will fund 10,000 colorectal cancer screenings in underserved communities as young Black men are disproportionately diagnosed with the disease.