1,000 Warhol artworks are on sale for just $250 each. But only one is real

Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

An artwork collective bought an authentic Andy Warhol drawing for $20,000 and is promoting it to 1 fortunate purchaser for simply $250. However there is a catch: The art work is being provided alongside 999 high-quality forgeries — and even their creators cannot inform them aside.

That is the most recent stunt by New York’s MSCHF, the group of round 20 artists infamously sued by Nike for creating modified “Devil” sneakers containing actual human blood.

Dubbed “Museum of Forgeries,” the group bought an genuine 1954 Warhol pen drawing, titled “Fairies,” after which used digital expertise and a robotic arm to recreate the artist’s actual strokes, earlier than utilizing warmth, gentle and humidity to artificially age the paper.

Having blended the 999 fakes with the lone authentic, MSCHF now claims to not know which is the actual Warhol. And from Monday collectors can purchase one of many 1,000 works, every titled “Presumably Actual Copy Of ‘Fairies’ by Andy Warhol,” for $250.

You’d must be out of your thoughts to take critically a gallery that’s providing this piece as a (genuine) Warhol sooner or later … we hope the chain of belief is irrevocably damaged right here.

Kevin Wiesner

If all of the items promote, the group would have revamped 12 instances what it initially paid for the drawing. However MSCHF additionally hopes to poke enjoyable at an business extra within the authenticity of an art work — or who created it — than the artwork itself, mentioned chief artistic officer, Lukas Bentel.

The 1954 drawing "Fairies" will be copied by a robotic arm before the paper is artificially weathered to create an authentic look.

The 1954 drawing “Fairies” might be copied by a robotic arm earlier than the paper is artificially weathered to create an genuine look. Credit score: Courtesy MSCHF

“For almost all of high-net-worth people amassing artwork, it isn’t concerning the aesthetic worth,” he mentioned throughout a video name from New York. “It is simply concerning the funding worth. Will this recognize in time or not?”

“It is all the time very humorous,” added artistic director Kevin Wiesner, “to do items which are in a position to concurrently spit within the artwork world’s face, and in addition do what they’re attempting to do — which is use artwork as an funding automobile — however higher.”

Destroying provenance

The collective believes that whoever buys the genuine Warhol could by no means notice it. Whereas admitting that an skilled would possibly nonetheless have the ability to decipher the distinction, Wiesner mentioned the forgeries are adequate to forged everlasting doubt over the work’s provenance.

“You’d must be out of your thoughts to take critically a gallery that’s providing this piece as a (genuine) Warhol sooner or later … we hope the chain of belief is irrevocably damaged right here.”

In addition to commenting on the subjective nature of worth, MSCHF hopes to make Warhol’s work accessible to those that won’t in any other case have the ability to afford it. In response to Bentel, the undertaking is not solely destroying the worth of 1 art work — it is creating a wholly new one that’s collectively owned by all 1,000 consumers.

Aside from expert opinion, the collective believe the forgeries are so good they wil permanently cast doubt over the work's authenticity.

Except for skilled opinion, the collective imagine the forgeries are so good they wil completely forged doubt over the work’s authenticity. Credit score: Courtesy MSCHF

“A Warhol piece is totally unrealistic for most individuals to even come near getting,” he mentioned. “Not directly, we’re democratizing it by letting everybody have what could possibly be a Warhol.”

Wiesner suspects that the artist, a determine who famously explored — and exploited — mass manufacturing in his personal work, would approve of the undertaking.

“I hope he’d get a kick out of it,” Wiesner mentioned.

Enfants horrible

Whether or not the Andy Warhol Basis, which manages the pop artist’s property, is so enthusiastic concerning the stunt stays to be seen.

MSCHF mentioned it would not anticipate authorized difficulties. However, as chief income officer Daniel Greenberg conceded, the group thought the identical when teaming up with rapper and singer Lil Nas X to create the controversial blood-filled “Devil” footwear earlier this yr.

In March, the sportwear big sued MSCHF for trademark infringement, claiming that the “unauthorized Devil Sneakers are more likely to trigger confusion and dilution and create an faulty affiliation between MSCHF’s merchandise and Nike.”

“There are two issues I mentioned on the time that I will always remember,” recalled Greenberg. “One was, ‘I hope Nike sues us.’ And (the opposite was), ‘that is 10,000 p.c authorized. And man, did they make my want come true.”

Nike sued MSCHF in March for a trademark infringment.

Nike sued MSCHF in March for a trademark infringment. Credit score: MSCHF

The 2 events ultimately reached a settlement, thrusting MSCHF into the worldwide highlight within the course of. However the group had been making headlines since 2019, when it offered a laptop computer put in with among the world’s most harmful viruses for over $1.3 million. It has since launched into a collection of irreverent “drops,” a collection of tongue-in-cheek artwork initiatives unveiled as soon as each two weeks.

In 2020, the group spent over $30,000 on one among Damien Hirst’s famous spotted artworks, earlier than slicing out every of the 88 coloured dots by hand and promoting them individually for big revenue. Then, earlier this yr, the collective ripped aside 4 Hermès Birkin baggage to create what could possibly be the world’s most expensive sandal — dubbed “Birkinstocks” — that have been priced between $34,000 and $76,000.

By forging Warhol’s work, Bentel hopes to proceed “creating worth via destruction.” And the artwork world’s newest enfants horrible appear intent on holding up a mirror to the business alongside the best way.

“If it is satire and it would not get a response,” Wiesner mentioned, “then it is only a description of actuality.”

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