A consummate art world troll has set his sights on the soon-to-be First Family. And his form of protest is, well, eccentric.
The words appeared as a caption attached to an image that does, in fact, show an artwork Prince produced. That artwork ― pictured above ― is part of his “New Portraits” series, which essentially consists of screenshots of other people’s Instagram posts transferred to canvases and sold at frustratingly high prices. (Yes, it’s a controversial series.)
The “fake” art Prince was attempting to denounce features none other than President-elect Donald Trump’s daughter and famous businesswoman, Ivanka. Prince used one of her selfies as the basis for a work and, according to a Tweet posted on Thursday, sold it to Ivanka herself for a cool $36,000 in 2014.
Look, artnet reports that you can see the future First Daughter posing next to the massive canvas in a photo she uploaded to Instagram (wow, we’re getting so meta) roughly 24 months ago.
Beyond maintaining that the artwork he definitely helped produce is “fake” (a pretty clear nod to Donald Trump’s fast and loose interpretation of the term “fake news”), and using one of the president-elect’s favorite words to deny its value, Prince also claimed on Twitter that he returned the money Ivanka originally paid for the piece.
Why all the reimbursing and denouncing? In a series of statements made on Twitter, Prince explained that “redacting Ivanka’s portrait was an honest choice between right and wrong. Right is art. Wrong is no art. The Trumps are no art.”
“The Trumps left me no choice,” he cryptically proclaimed. “SheNowOwnsAfake [sic].”
It’s no secret that artists these days really, really don’t want their art on Ivanka’s walls. “Dear @Ivankatrump please get my work off of your walls,” Philadelphia-based artist Alex Da Corte expressed on Instagram. “I am embarrassed to be seen with you.”
The sellers’ remorse stems from artists’ recent desire to distance themselves from a woman well known for collecting art, namely because the father she’s campaigned for has a history of promoting racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic views. Since Prince can’t physically remove his work from Ivanka’s wall, perhaps he believes that claiming it’s “fake” and returning her money will wash his hands of the whole ordeal.
Keep in mind, Prince is the same man who has been accused of stealing other people’s imagery and selling it off for upwards of $90,000. So we’re not sure this particular gesture holds much weight. Nonetheless, it’s pretty amusing to see him appropriate the term “fake” for his own mad artist antics.
We have reached out to Richard Prince and Ivanka Trump, but have yet to hear back from either. Until then, we’ll be contemplating the many layers of this decidedly complicated social media saga.