Rebel Art Group Sells One Real Andy Warhol Drawing Disguised Among 999 Forgeries

Most of us could only dream of hanging a Picasso, Caravaggio or Monet on our walls, but one lucky art collector has snapped up an Andy Warhol original for just $250.

In the latest stunt by street art collective MSCHF—"Mischief"—the Brooklyn-based group bought a 1954 drawing by Warhol, depicting a trio of nude figures skipping rope, entitled "Fairies."

MSCHF—which says the Warhol drawing is worth $20,000—then created 999 forgeries and mixed the original among the hundreds of fakes, supposedly rendering it impossible to tell the works apart.

All 1,000 ink-on-paper works, measuring 16.75 x 13.75 inches, were titled "Possibly Real Copy Of 'Fairies' by Andy Warhol."

They were then put up for sale via the group's Museum of Forgeries website.

Gabe Whaley, CEO of MSCHF, told Newsweek: "Every piece was indeed sold within the first day."

This would have netted the collective a total of $250,000. Auction house Christie's says the 1954 Warhol drawing was sold in 2016 for $8,125.

The description on the Museum of Forgeries website read: "They are all definitely by MSCHF, and also all possibly by Andy Warhol. Any record of which piece within the set is the original has been destroyed.

"The copies are ours. More accurately, the entire performance of copying and selling is ours. Not 1000 identical artworks, but a single overarching piece with a thousand co-owners and co-participants. The act of creation is the act of upcycling culture into recombinant forms. Fairies, 1954, by Andy Warhol, is a MSCHF artwork."

MSCHF's process used a robotic arm.
MSCHF used a robotic arm to recreate Warhol's lines. The art group sold all 1,000 works, with the original among them. MSCHF

To create the copies, MSCHF programmed a robotic arm to meticulously recreate the lines of Warhol's drawing. The group said it had a four-step formula for the project: replication, degradation, authentication and finally "lose the original."

It explained on the website: "The capital-A Art World is far more concerned with authenticity than aesthetics, as proven time and again by conceptual works sold primarily as paperwork and documentation.

"Artwork provenance tracks the life and times of a particular piece—a record of ownership, appearances, and sales. An entire sub-industry of forensic and investigative conservation exists for this purpose.

"By forging Fairies en masse, we obliterate the trail of provenance for the artwork. Though physically undamaged, we destroy any future confidence in the veracity of the work. By burying a needle in a needlestack, we render the original as much a forgery as any of our replications."


— MSCHF (@mschf) October 25, 2021

The collective releases "drops" every few weeks. In the spring, it hit the headlines for a collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X—"Satan Shoes," which were customized Nike Air Max 97s purportedly containing a single drop of blood.

Only 666 pairs were created and all but one pair of the $1,018 shoes sold out in less than a minute. The final pair, held by the rapper, reverted back to MSCHF.

Nike filed a trademark infringement lawsuit over the project, with Lil Nas X joking that he "might be going to jail." The lawsuit was settled and the shoes were recalled.

The sportswear giant offered people who had bought the sneakers a full refund, in order to remove them from circulation.

MSCHF also made the sword carried by musician Grimes at the Met Gala in September.

Newsweek has contacted the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. for comment.