Professional troublemakers MSCHF are back at it with another one of their schemes, this time targeting the bourgeoisie art world as their latest victim.
The NYC-based collective of 20 artists and perpetual nose-thumbers recently purchased a 1954 Andy Warhol pen drawing entitled “Fairies” for $20K. They also meticulously forged it 999 times utilizing digital technology and a robotic arm to replicate the work’s exact strokes. They then used heat, light, and humidity to age the paper precisely.
Now, they’re selling all 999 forgeries along with the original work for $250 each. The kicker? No one knows which one is the original—not even MSCHF. And that’s the whole point.
Like all of MSCHF’s 59 “drops,” “Museum of Forgeries” deliberately sets out to spit in the face of the powers that be, preciousness, and exclusivity. The group’s co-chief creative officers, Lukas Bentel and Kevin Wiesner, have made it their mission to ruffle the feathers of big brands and poke holes in convention. Recently, Nike sued them for a previous project where they collaborated with Lil Nas X to modify Air Max 97s with satanic iconography and real human blood.
MSCHF has already sold out all 1,000 of the “Possible Real Copy of ‘Fairies’ by Andy Warhol” pieces, meaning they’ve turned a $230,000 profit, though of course, it was never really about the money. “It’s always very funny to do pieces that are able to simultaneously spit in the art world’s face, and also do what they’re trying to do, which is use art as an investment vehicle, but better,” Weisner told CNN.
While the Museum of Forgeries website states that “any record of which piece within the set is the original has been destroyed,” Wiesner admits that an expert might still manage to be able to decipher the original drawing from the forgeries. But even still, the fakes are so precise that the work’s provenance will always retain at least a dash of permanent doubt.
MSCHF is orchestrating a commentary on the money-hungry nature of the high-art world through this stunt, with most collectors purchasing pieces not for their beauty or aesthetic value but for their significance as monetary investment pieces that will appreciate with time.
Bentel and Weisner want to blow this up by democratizing Warhol’s work, obliterating the value of the original “Fairies,” and creating an entirely new version collectively owned by 1,000 buyers. Bentel says their group is keen on continuing to “create value through destruction.”
So what would Warhol himself make of all of this? Well, as a famous iconoclast in his own right, I think he’d be able to handle it.