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Steven Lilley / flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

Did this artist steal your Instagram post and sell it for a fortune?

Richard Prince is one of the art world's biggest trolls—and that's saying something.


Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Posted on May 22, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 6:45 pm CDT

Hey, you. Got an Instagram account? Then you may want to check out artist Richard Prince’s “New Portraits” exhibition in New York’s Gagosian Gallery, because there’s a chance that he screengrabbed one of your photos, blew it up, and sold it to some wealthy rube for $100,000.

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OK, so many of the photos come from celebrities’ social media feeds, as the New York Post reports—Kate Moss and Pamela Anderson are included—but perhaps you, too, made the cut, and now hang on a spotless white wall. 

Gagosian Gallery

Is this theft? Of course! But that’s the point, you philistines. The naked appropriation of (and profiting from) other people’s photography makes a powerful statement about a craven and spiritually hollow art world, much in the way that stealing tweets to embed on your clickbait website is a perfect way to acknowledge the intellectual bankruptcy of all media.

Well, we wouldn’t expect anything less for a dude kicked off of Instagram for posting a nude of 10-year-old Brooke Shields, now would we. And don’t bother calling up your lawyer—Gothamist notes that he’s beaten copyright lawsuits in the past because of this magical thing called “fair use.” 

Easier to just not ever express yourself on the Internet again.

Photo via Steven Lilley/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

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*First Published: May 22, 2015, 5:12 pm CDT