Gold castings of the hands of South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela have been sold for $10m (£7m) in bitcoin.
Canadian crypto-currency exchange firm Arbitrade bought four casts from South African businessman Malcolm Duncan.
Mr Duncan, who now lives in Canada, bought the casts from mining group Harmony Gold in 2002 for about $31,000.
Arbitrade paid Mr Duncan a bitcoin deposit that has been converted to $50,000, and the rest is expected to be paid in quarterly instalments of at least $2m.
“They take possession when I have the dollar amount in the bank, At two-and-a-quarter million at a time, they take one hand at a time,” Mr Duncan was quoted as saying.
Speaking in what they intend to do with the golden casts, the firm said it planned to launch a global “Golden Hands of Nelson Mandela” tour to educate young people about the anti-apartheid icon’s life.
This is the first time artefacts of Mr Mandela have been sold in bitcoin.
The Mandela hand cast, include Mr Mandela’s hand, palm and fist and they are made up of almost 10 kilograms (9807 grams) of solid 99.99% pure gold. They are part of a collection meant to mark the years the former president spent in prison on Robben Island.
The artefacts are believed to be the only ones left in the world.
The other sets of the collection were ordered to be destroyed by Mr Mandela, Mr Duncan told
Each of the casts is enclosed in it’s own case made of imbuia wood. The cases contain a brass plate which describes Mandela’s political and personal struggle for democracy and equality in South Africa.
The casts have three distinct claims to fame:
1. It is the only set of this kind to have ever been made anywhere in the world.
2. It is the only item in the world, besides Nelson Mandela’s own hands, which bear his fingerprints.
3. The set is being sold as a whole, adding tremendously to the treasure’s rarity and value.
The casts were made in 1990 by the mining company Harmony Gold.
Mr Mandela was jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule in South Africa.
He was released in 1990, and served as president from 1994 to 1999.
Mr Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. He had turned into a global brand, with businessmen and artists cashing in on his name.