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Famous Artist Sells Stolen Instagram Photos for $90k

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I’d be blue too if a rich artist made $100k off my photo.  Photo @doedeere

Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”  But Richard Prince’s jilted Instagram subjects beg to differ, as we learned in this Fast Company article by KC Ifeanyi.

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Prince “takes screenshots of Instagram photos from models and celebrities, inkjet prints them on 67-by-55-inch canvases, adds vague and creeper-esque comments to avoid copyright infringement, then prices them at $90K a pop,” explains Ifeanyi.   

Not surprisingly, folks are pretty peeved. In an attempt to fight back, one of the women whose photo was used, Missy Suicide, is now selling exact copies of Prince’s version of her photo for a more reasonable $90.  Then, she donates the proceeds to the Electric Frontier Foundation, a organization dedicated to protecting people’s rights in the digital world. 

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Ironically, the Suicide Girls are thieves themselves.

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Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol at MOMA

The blatant hijacking of ideas and images in the art world is nothing new, however.  You’ll be shocked at the beloved artists who made it to the big leagues by appropriating images that weren’t exactly their own.

Andy Warhol reproduced the Campbell’s Soup brand hundreds if not thousands of times, and Roy Lichtenstein copied comics, for example.

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Drowing Girl by Roy Lichtenstein at MOMA

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Street artist Shepard Fairey used a photograph by freelance photographer Mannie Garcia to make this stenciled version which has been acquired by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

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In this “original” work of art, Duchamp painted a moustache on a print of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and scribbled L.H.O.O.Q. (which roughly means “She’s hot in the arse”) on the bottom (hee-hee).  It’s like he was Instagram trolling before there was Instagram.  

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Koons’ Balloon Dog, left.  Censored yet innocent balloon dog, right.

Meanwhile, millionaire artist Jeff Koons nearly sued independent designers who made bookends in the same shape as one of his iconic sculptures: the shape of a balloon dog .  That’s right.  Jeff Koons thinks he invented the balloon dog.  

If Richard Prince sues Missy Suicide for selling copies of his copy of her photo, my head will start spinning.

If you’re into stolen art, check out Sartle’s Theft artwork collection: pieces that have been stolen, recovered, and sometimes even stolen again.

by Jennifer and Carolyn

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Carolyn Nickell

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