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Artist says he will destroy masterpieces by Rembrandt, Picasso and Warhol worth $45 million with acid if Julian Assange dies in prison

An artist in the south of France plans to destroy up to $45 million worth of art, including works by Rembrandt, Picasso and Andy Warhol, if Julien Assange, founder of Wikileaks dies in prison, reports British television channel Sky News.

Andrei Molodkin says he placed the masterpieces given to him in a 29-ton safe connected to two barrels – one containing an acid powder and the other containing an accelerator – which, when pumped into the safe, will create a strong enough reaction to destroy all its contents, says Sky News.

The project is called “Dead Man’s Switch” and is supported by Julien Assange’s wife, Stella. Assange is currently in prison in the UK awaiting his final appeal. extradition to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act, which will take place later this month. Wikileaks published thousands of leaked documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Assange allegedly conspired to obtain and leak information on US national defense.

The Wikileaks founder denies any wrongdoing and his lawyer says his life is in danger if he loses his appeal.

“In our catastrophic times – where we have so many wars – destroying art is much more taboo than destroying a person’s life,” Molodkin, originally from Russia but now living in France, told Sky News. “Since Julian Assange has been in prison… freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of information have started to be repressed more and more. I have this feeling very strongly now.”

The safe will be sealed in Molodkin’s workshop in France on Friday and will eventually be transferred to a museum, Sky News reports.

Molodkin says the safe will be connected to a 24-hour timer that must be reset every day or it will trigger the release of corrosive substances from the two barrels inside. He says that each day the timer will only be reset when someone “close to Assange” confirms that he is alive.

Milan art gallery owner Giampaolo Abbondio told Sky News he initially rejected Molodkin’s idea but has now donated a Picasso to the project.

“It is more important for the world to have one Assange than one more Picasso, so I decided to accept (Molodkin’s offer to participate),” Abbondio said. “Let’s say I’m optimistic and lent it. If Assange is released, I can get it back. Picasso can vary from 10,000 to 100 million, but I don’t think it’s the number of zeros that makes it more relevant when we talk about a human life.

Artist Franko B told Sky News he donated one of his own pieces to be placed in the vault.

“I thought it was important to do something that is close to my heart. I didn’t donate something I found in the corner of my studio. I donated a work that is very dear to me and which speaks of freedom, of censorship,” says Franko B. “It’s important. It’s a small gesture compared to what Assange did and what he’s going through.”

Assange’s wife, Stella, says the project raises the question of “which is the bigger taboo: destroying art or destroying human life?” »

“The real targets here are not just Julian Assange, but also the public’s right to know and the future of the ability to hold power to account,” Stella told Sky News. “If democracy wins, art will be preserved, as will Julian’s life.”

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