An art group bought an original Andy Warhol drawing for $20,000 and is selling it to one lucky buyer for only $250. But there’s a catch: The artwork is being pitched with 999 high-quality counterfeits—and even their creators can’t tell them apart.
Dubbed the “Museum of Forgeries”, the group purchased an authentic 1954 Warhol pen drawing titled “Fairies” and then used the artist’s precise strokes, before using heat, light and humidity to artificially age the paper. Used digital technology and a robotic arm to recreate. .
After mixing 999 fakes with the originals alone, MSCHF no longer claims to know which is the real Warhol. And starting Monday collectors can purchase one of 1,000 works, each titled “possibly a genuine copy of ‘Fairies’ by Andy Warhol,” for $250.
You’d have to be out of your mind to seriously approach a gallery presenting this piece as (authentic) Warhol in the future… we hope the chain of belief is irreparably broken here.
If all the pieces sold out, the group would have made more than 12 times what they originally paid for the drawing. But MSCHF also hopes to mock an industry more interested in the authenticity of an artwork than the art itself – or who created it, said Lucas Bentel, chief creative officer.
The 1954 drawing “fairies” would be copied by a robotic arm to create an authentic look before the paper was artificially weathered. Credit: Courtesy MSCHF
“For most high-net-worth individuals collecting art, it’s not about aesthetic value,” he said during a video call from New York. “It’s just about the investment value. Will it appreciate over time or not?”
“It’s always a lot of fun,” said creative director Kevin Wisner, “to put together pieces that are able to spit in the art world’s face, and also do what they’re trying to do—which is an investment vehicle.” As is to use art – but better.”
destroy the origin
The collective believes that anyone who buys authentic Warhol may never even realize it. Acknowledging that an expert may still be able to discern the difference, Wisner said the forgery is good enough to cast permanent doubts on the origins of the work.
“You’d have to be out of your mind to seriously approach a gallery presenting this piece as (authentic) Warhol in the future … We hope the chain of trust is completely broken here.”
As well as commenting on the subjective nature of value, MSCHF hopes to make Warhol’s work accessible to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it. According to Bentel, the project is not only destroying the value of an artwork – it is creating an entirely new one that is jointly owned by all 1,000 buyers.
In addition to expert opinion, collectives believe that the forgery is so good that they will permanently doubt the authenticity of the work. Credit: Courtesy MSCHF
“A Warhol piece is completely unrealistic, even as most people come close to getting it,” he said. “Somehow, we’re democratizing this by allowing everyone to be Warhol.”
Wisner doubts that the artist, a man who famously explored — and exploited — his work in mass production, would approve the project.
“I hope he gets a kick out of it,” Wisner said.
Whether the Andy Warhol Foundation, which manages the pop artist’s estate, is so excited about the stunt remains to be seen.
MSCHF said it does not anticipate legal difficulties. But, as Chief Revenue Officer Daniel Greenberg admitted, the group thought so when it teamed up with rapper and singer Lil Nas X to create the controversial blood-soaked “Devil” boots earlier this year.
In March, the sportswear giant sued MSCHF for trademark infringement, claiming that “Unauthorized Devil Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create a false connection between MSCHF’s products and Nike’s” “
“There were two things I said at the time that I will never forget,” Greenberg recalled. “One was, ‘I hope Nike sues us.’ And (the other was), ‘That’s 10,000 percent valid. And man, did they do my wish.’
Nike sued MSCHF in March for trademark infringement. Credit: MSCHF
The two sides eventually struck a deal, putting MSCHF in the global spotlight in the process. But the group has been making headlines since 2019, when it sold a laptop installed with some of the world’s most dangerous viruses for more than $1.3 million. Since then it has launched a series of irreverent “droplets”, a series of tongue-in-cheek art projects unveiled once every two weeks.
By fabricating Warhol’s work, Bentel hopes to continue “creating value through destruction.” And the latest enfants of the art world seem intent on keeping a mirror to the industry in terrifying ways.
“If it’s satire and it doesn’t get a response,” Wisner said, “then it’s just a description of reality.”