Richard Prince sells 'stolen' instagram photos for $100,000
Your next post on Instagram may be far more valuable than you could ever imagine. Richard Prince, the notoriously controversial artist, recently opened a show at the Gagosian Gallery as a part of the Frieze Art Fair. The exhibit consisted of 37 blown up screenshots of other users’ Instagram photos ranging from icons like Kate Moss to Laurie Simmons to Slutever’s Karley Sciortino. Sold up to $100,000 each, the 48 x 65 inch prints were displayed without permission from the original artists and has resulted in widespread debate.
Doe Deere, the CEO of the makeup company Lime Crime and one of the Instagram users featured in the exhibit, had her photo sold for $90,000 and made none of the profits. She later posted on Instagram that while she was aware of the incident, she does not intend to press charges.
This is not the first instance of alleged copyright infringement for Prince. Back in 2011, the 65 year old artist was sued for illegally using Patrick Cariou’s photographs for his collages. While the court originally sided with Cariou, after an appeal, the court voted in favor of Prince. In a similar light, despite loads of backlash, Prince’s use of the Instagram imagery is entirely fair. Prince explains, “I don’t see any difference now between what I collect and what I make. It’s become the same.”
So what’s the catch? Is Richard Prince making a social critique on the role of content and ownership on the internet or is he simply the greatest troll of all time? The internet has become a mysterious vortex, where anything that is posted is instantly subject to its’ own unforeseeable trajectory. From overnight popstars to secret pornstars and now, thanks to Richard Prince, accidental artists, anything that goes up online, may never come down.