Gold casts of Nelson Mandela’s hands purchased for $10 million in bitcoins are going on tour to remind the public of the first black South African president’s contributions to humanity. Made from 20 pounds of 99.999 pure gold, the casts include three life size impressions of Mandela’s hands and two others of his palm and fist, cast by Harmony Gold Mining in 2002. They are believed to be the last surviving artifacts of their kind.
The Board of Arbitrade, a Canadian-based cryptocurrency exchange, acquired the collection for $10 million in bitcoins, and now intends to put them on display in shows around the world. Arbitrade chair Len Schutzman said the aim is to educate audiences about the abolition of apartheid that Mandela led.
“The collection celebrates not only the remarkable contributions of Nelson Mandela to humanity each year, but also all that has been done by South Africa in supporting gold and the mining industry though the years,” Schutzman said in a statement. “The company plans on orchestrating a global tour exhibiting the Golden Hands in national museums around the world to celebrate the life and legacy of a man that meant so much to so many.”
Tour dates and locations have not yet been announced. A fist, full hand and a palm impression of his right hand had been cast for each of the 27 years Mandela spent behind bars before he walked out of Pollsmoore prison in 1990. The rest of the series was destroyed at the behest of Mandela, who died in 2013, according to the seller, Malcolm Duncan, a South African entrepreneur who knew Mandela and now lives in western Canada.