SuicideGirls give ripoff artist a taste of his own medicine

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Richard Prince sold and Instagram screen shot for thousands, but the original owner will sell it on a deep discount.
Richard Prince sold Instagram screenshots for thousands of dollars, but the original owner will sell it on a deep discount.
Photo: SuicideGirls

You can spend $90,000 on a Richard Prince “piece of art.” Or you can get the same thing from the original source he ripped off at a 99 percent discount.

Prince used screenshots of people he followed on Instagram and converted them into a large inkjet paintings he then sold for thousands of dollars. Prince did not alert the subjects their Instagram shares were being displayed and sold.

Some of the images were from the popular trend-setting SuicideGirls, whose founder has offered the same pictures printed in the same way for sale for $90 on its website.

Injet prints made by Richard Prince on exhibit in New York sold for thousands.
Injet prints made by Richard Prince on exhibit in New York sold for thousands.
Photo: Collector Daily

“Do we have Mr. Prince’s permission to sell these prints? We have the same permission from him that he had from us,” founder Selena Monney (aka Missy Suicide) said in a written statement released Wednesday. “Richard Prince is an artist and he found the images (of) our girls . . . on Instagram as representative of something worth commenting on, part of the zeitgeist, I guess? Thanks Richard!”

Prince has a history of stirring controversy for co-opting the work of other artists and making changes to it to call it his own. Cult of Mac reported last week on the most recent firestorm as some of the people in the Instagram pieces began to learn for the first time their images were being sold for prices starting at $40,000.

Prince began exhibiting and selling his Instagram collection in New York City last fall and again at a New York City art fair earlier this month. The SuicideGirls are a kind of media company with millions of followers social media and the Instagram posts fit with other provocative images Prince curated.

The changes he made were minute. He resized and printed them and each contained a comment he had left on the post.

So far, none of the people in his exhibits have indicated they will challenge him on copyright or seek a portion of the money he made.

Missy Suicide was quite artful in her response and carefully worded statement, saying images from the SuicideGirls social media accounts are often used without permission.

“If I had a nickel for every time someone used our images without permission in a commercial endeavor, I’d be able to spend $90,000 on art,” she said.

SuicideGirls is a popular website and online community for alternative beauty and indie culture. Tasteful softcore pin-up style photos are featured on the website and its various social media sites, including Instagram, where the punk-rock beauties attract more than 2 million followers – including Prince.

Proceeds the SuicideGirls sales will go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.