Former health secretary Matt Hancock has launched a cryptocurrency fundraising sale of digital artwork created by a Ukrainian refugee who has been living in his Suffolk home.
The artworks, a 15-piece collection called From Ukraine with Love, were made by Oleg Mischenko, a Ukrainian whose family has been staying with Mr Hancock.
The former minister announced the sale of the artworks in the form of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, a type of digital collectible designed to be unique.
The digital art collection will be auctioned off on cryptocurrency trading app Coinbase, raising funds for Care International’s Ukraine appeal. NFTs are encoded with a kind of digital watermark, meaning individuals can own or trade the “original” artwork.
A spokesman for Mr Hancock said 90pc of the fund’s raised will go to Care, while 10pc will go to Mr Mischenko’s family.
Mr Mischenko’s wife, Iryna Korobkina, and their daughter fled Ukraine in March last year following the Russian invasion, and were taken in by Mr Hancock’s family. The artist applied to fight in the Ukrainian army, but was not sent to fight due to his health. He joined his family in Suffolk in December.
Mr Hancock said he was “incredibly proud of Iryna and Oleg and I am honoured to support the family with their charity NFT collection”.
The charity auction, which will raise funds in the cryptocurrency Ethereum, is being organised by Mr Hancock’s NFTs for Charities group. The account, set up on Coinbase’s auction site, was set up to “demonstrate the power NFTs have to mobilise grassroots finance in support of charitable causes worldwide”.
Ms Korobkina said: “My husband’s paintings and this NFT collection gives my family and my country hope. Each piece depicts nature in our wonderful Ukraine. It was a beautiful, flourishing, peaceful country until Putin waged this illegal and barbaric war.”
The digital artworks, which were originally displayed in the Ukrainian city of Odesa, will be sold at the NFT Gallery in Mayfair, central London.
Mr Hancock, who was the UK’s digital secretary before leading the Department of Health during the pandemic, is a cryptocurrency enthusiast. He previously received £10,000 for a speech at a cryptocurrency conference.