Group 'Destroys' $20K Warhol Sketch by Hiding It Amid Fakes

MSCHF stunt meant to 'destroy any future confidence in the veracity of the work'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2021 1:00 PM CDT
Someone Nabbed a Warhol for $250. There's a Catch
"Possibly Real Copy Of 'Fairies' by Andy Warhol" by MSCHF.   (MSCHF)

The art collective that brought you Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes says it's latest stunt involved "destroying" a one-of-a kind Andy Warhol sketch. Brooklyn-based MSCHF (pronounced "mischief") acquired Warhol's "Fairies," a 1954 minimalist ink sketch of three nude fairies playing with a jump rope, which sold at auction in 2016 for $8,125, per USA Today. The collective says it is now worth about $20,000—but it listed it for sale for just $250 alongside 999 identical forgeries, which were created with a machine on paper that was aged to match the original.

As all have since sold out, buyers have a 0.1% chance of holding the original. But MSCHF doesn't plan to reveal which of the sketches is real. This "Museum of Forgeries" exhibition is meant to spark a conversation about the accessibility of great works of art. In 2013, a Quartz analysis examined how art prices are set by "a handful of galleries, collectors and museums," adding that the manipulation was to "an extent that would be illegal in most industries." By "forging [the drawing] en masse, we obliterate the trail of provenance for the artwork," MSCHF says. "By burying a needle in a needlestack, we render the original as much a forgery as any of our replications" and "destroy any future confidence in the veracity of the work."

It’s no coincidence that Warhol’s art was chosen. "I don't know where the artificial stops and the real starts," the artist once said, per Artnet News. "He mainstreamed the idea that great artists don’t produce their own works themselves, which at some point farther back in history would have been as verboten as forgery," MSCHF chief creative officer Kevin Wiesner tells the outlet, adding the stunt "is about using duplication as a means of destroying art." The collective previously cut up a $30,000 Damien Hurst print and sold off the pieces as part of its "Severed Spots" exhibition. It also made paintings from Americans' medical bills, then sold them to erase some $73,360 in debt. (More Andy Warhol stories.)

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