The Museum of Forgeries is the latest scheme by Brooklyn-based art Collective MSCHF who bought a Warhol, created 999 new versions and mixed them altogether for a flash sale.
According to the MSCHF website the Museum of Forgeries is drop #59 or number 59 in a series of posts/escapades which they have been launching every Monday for the past year. Before these posts they made waves with one-off stunts such as buying a $30,000 Damien Hirst Spot Print, cutting it up and selling individual spots for $480.
Andy Warhol’s Fairies
“Possibly Real Copy Of ‘Fairies’ by Andy Warhol is a series of 1,000 identical artworks. They are all definitely by MSCHF, and also all possibly by Andy Warhol. Any record of which piece within the set is the original has been destroyed”
Their latest mischief involved buying a sketch of Andy Warhol’s Fairies (1954), which depicts three fairies skipping and making 999 replicas, which have now sold out. One buyer will have the original, which MSCHF paid $20,000 for at Hamilton-Selway Fine Art in Los Angeles, but will also have no way of knowing.
To make it as difficult as possible to identify the original MSCHF built a custom robot to create the copies and then artificially aged and stained each piece of paper.
“By forging Fairies en masse, we obliterate the trail of provenance for the artwork,” they say. “Though physically undamaged, we destroy any future confidence in the veracity of the work. By burying a needle in a needlestack, we render the original as much a forgery as any of our replications.”
“The copies are ours. More accurately, the entire performance of copying and selling is ours. Not 1000 identical artworks, but a single overarching piece with a thousand co-owners and co-participants. The act of creation is the act of upcycling culture into recombinant forms. Fairies, 1954, by Andy Warhol, is a MSCHF artwork.”
Dig at art world
The escapade is a dig at the art world, and possibly museums, which the artists say is far more concerned with authenticity than aesthetics.
“[This is] proven time and again by conceptual works sold primarily as paperwork and documentation. Artwork provenance tracks the life and times of a particular piece–a record of ownership, appearances, and sales. An entire sub-industry of forensic and investigative conservation exists for this purpose.”
Their argument is that copies might reduce value but they increase revenue.
About the author – Adrian Murphy
Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.