A Russian artist has vowed to dissolve masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt, and Andy Warhol with acid if Wikileaks founder Julian Assange dies in prison. 

As first reported by British broadcaster Sky News, Andrei Molodkin claims to have 16 modern and contemporary artworks collectively worth $45 million stored in a 29-ton safe alongside an “extremely corrosive” substance. The works are allegedly stored in boxes connected via a pneumatic pump to two barrels—one containing acid powder and the other an accelerator capable of causing a chemical reaction that would decimate the vault’s interior. 

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The project, called “Dead Man’s Switch”, has been supported by Assange’s wife, Stella, who is awaiting the verdict on her husband’s final appeal against an extradition to the United States, where he faces charges of espionage. Assange is being held in a high security prison in the UK due to the extradition request, which was spurred by his publishing of disclosed documents, including those related to the US military campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan, through the platform Wikileaks. 

Assange has denied any wrongdoing, and attorneys have argued that he may lose his life if extradited. 

“In our catastrophic time — when we have so many wars — to destroy art is much more taboo than to destroy the life of a person,” Molodkin, who lives in France, told Sky News. “Since Julian Assange has been in prison… freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of information has started to be more and more repressed. I have this feeling very strongly now.”

The vault is located at Molodkin’s studio in France, and it is set be moved to an undetermined museum, Sky News reports. The plan is to hook the safe to a 24-hour timer which must be reset every day at risk of the chemical substance igniting. The timer will only be reset, however, after someone “close to Assange” confirms he is alive.

Giampaolo Abbondio, a Milan art dealer, told Sky News that he initially decried Molodkin’s project, but after later donated a Picasso to the project.

“It’s more relevant for the world to have one Assange than an extra Picasso, so I decided to accept [the offer to donate an artwork]” Abbondio said. “Let’s say I’m an optimist and I’ve lent it. If Assange goes free, I can have 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’re talking about a human life.”

Assange’s wife said in a statement that Molodkin’s project demands the question of “which is the greater taboo: destroying art or destroying human life?”