Nelson Mandela’s hands were immortalized by how he changed the course of history, so maybe it’s destiny that solid gold casts of his hands will go to a bitcoin buyer. Ontario-based cryptocurrency exchange The Board of Arbitrade is buying what’s believed to be the last remaining set of gold artifacts comprised of Mr. Mandela’s hands for $10 million in bitcoin.
The set, which weighs 20 pounds of 99.999 pure gold, is comprised of a trio of “life-size impressions” of Mr. Mandela’s hands and a pair with his palm and fist. Malcolm Duncan, a Canadian entrepreneur who knew Mandela, is the seller and reportedly paid 3.6 million South African Rand for the set to Harmony Gold Mining, which cast the items in 2002. Duncan couldn’t turn them over until striking a deal with the cryptocurrency exchange, he seems a little skittish about transacting in cryptocurrencies.
The gold artifacts are a treasure for many reasons, not the least of which is because they are one of a series of 27 sets — each one of which reflecting a year that Mr. Mandela was imprisoned. Duncan owned every set of the golden hands for each year between 1964 and 1990, from when Mandela entered the prison cell block to when he was eventually freed before becoming South Africa’s first black president. The other gold pieces are said to no longer exist, at the behest of Mr. Mandela.
To understand why the exchange would want the golden hands, it helps to know a little more about the trading platform. They are developing a cryptocurrency mining operation for their own coin as well as support trading of other cryptocurrencies. Their Dignity (DIG) coin will be backed by gold.
The golden hands are not yet paid in full, as the exchange has provided a $50,000 deposit in bitcoin that has since been converted to fiat money, according to reports. The buyer and seller agreed to a schedule in which the exchange will make quarterly payments of $2 million per piece in the set. But the exchange doesn’t get the physical items until physical money converted from bitcoin is deposited into the seller’s account.
“At two-and-a-quarter million at a time, they take one hand at a time,” according to Duncan quoted in Bloomberg.
The timing of The Board of Arbitrage’s acquisition is serendipitous, as the former owner agreed to part with the gold-cast hands just weeks ahead of the exchange’s upcoming ICO. They are milking the opportunity, launching a Golden Hands of Nelson Mandela Tour in which they plan to teach millennials about the abolition of apartheid that Mr. Mandela led in conjunction with their vision for the exchange.
Nelson Mandela died in 2013. We can only wonder how he would have felt about decentralization, but then again, maybe he already told us.
Featured image from Shutterstock.