Artist Andrei Molodkin, who lives in the south of France, said that he plans to destroy $45 million worth of art, including works by Rembrandt, Picasso and Andy Warhol, if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange dies in prison.

Molodkin explained that he had placed a collection of masterpieces donated to him in a 29-ton vault attached to two barrels, one containing acid powder and the other an accelerator. The project is called "Dead Man's Key" and is supported by Assange's wife, Stella.

"In our catastrophic time with so many wars, destroying art is much more taboo than destroying a human life," Molodkin told Sky News. Since Assange has been in prison, freedom of expression and freedom of information have been increasingly suppressed. "I feel this feeling very strongly right now," he said. Support for Molodkin continues. Milan art gallery owner Giampaolo Abbondio said he initially rejected Molodkin's idea but has now donated a Picasso to the project. Artist Franko B also supported this protest with one of his works. Assange is currently in prison in the UK, awaiting a final decision on his extradition to the US to face charges under the Espionage Act, which comes into force at the end of this month.