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Surgeon accused of trying to sell NFT of Paris terrorist attack victim’s X-ray: ‘I’ve done a stupid thing’

People pass the Bataclan concert hall in August 2021, one of the sites of the November 2015 attacks that killed 130 people and injured more than 350 in Paris. (Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters)
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On Nov. 13, 2015, some 1,500 people were watching the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal perform at the Bataclan theater in Paris when three gunmen burst into the venue and fired into the crowd. Ninety people died there, and scores more were seriously injured.

The terrorist attack at the concert hall was the deadliest incident of the strikes by gunmen and suicide bombers at six sites in Paris that night, which altogether killed 130 and wounded more than 350.

Emmanuel Masmejean, an orthopedic surgeon at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, claims to have operated on several victims of the attack, according to the French online newspaper Mediapart. But now, Masmejean’s career is in jeopardy amid accusations that he tried to leverage the market for NFTs — non-fungible tokens — to sell an X-ray image showing a bullet lodged in the arm of one of his patients after the attack.

An NFT is a unique digital representation of a product, created using the same blockchain technology that powers cryptocurrencies, and the model has grown increasingly popular over the past year. While NFTs have taken off in the digital art world — with some pieces selling for tens of millions of dollars — basketball highlights, recorded music and even newspaper articles have also been sold as NFTs.

Will NFTs transform the art world? Are they even art?

According to Mediapart, Masmejean attempted to sell an image of an X-ray of a female victim of the Bataclan attack for about $2,776 on the platform OpenSea, a popular NFT marketplace. He allegedly did so under the title “Bataclan terrorist attack — November 13, 2015 — Paris, France.” Next to the image, Masmejean wrote that he personally operated on five female victims of the attack, including the woman whose arm is shown in the X-ray, according to Mediapart and an archived version of the listing, which has since been removed.

“This young patient, who lost her boyfriend in this attack, had an open fracture of the left forearm with a remaining bullet of [Kalashnikov] in soft tissues,” the listing stated, referring to the type of assault rifle some of the terrorists used in the attack.

Masmejean did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post late Wednesday. The surgeon told Mediapart that he did not seek the woman’s consent before listing the image.

“Yes, I’ve done a stupid thing,” he said. “What is written there is an error, I recognize that.”

In a tweet, Martin Hirsch, the managing director of the APHP, a large hospital network in Paris that includes Georges Pompidou, said he would push for sanctions and legal charges against the doctor.

“Such behavior is unworthy and offends our conception of public service. It would be outrageous in any circumstance and for any patient,” Hirsch wrote. “It is especially abject in the context of the ongoing trials and what the victims of these attacks have endured.”

The trials of 20 attackers and accomplices in the November 2015 attacks began in September and are expected to last until May, The Post reported.

In a custom-built courtroom, the trial begins for the November 2015 Paris attacks

In a statement shared with The Post, Elodie Abraham, a lawyer for the woman whose X-ray image was allegedly posted for sale, said her client was “extremely shocked,” noting that Masmejean contacted the victim on Sunday “to justify himself without showing the slightest regret, nor the slightest empathy for her.”

Abraham said the surgeon violated her client’s privacy by posting the X-ray online and providing a detailed description. Abraham added that her client hoped Masmejean would face consequences so that something like this could never happen again.

Annabelle Timsit contributed to this report.

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