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Artists profit from destroying a Hirst spot painting

If you want to stand out from the crowd, do something completely outrageous. Something that gets the tongues wagging, something that in this technological age goes viral…

…and although you may never have heard of them, Brooklyn-based creative outfit MSCHF seem to be doing alright doing just that.

Severed Spots

Their latest ‘stunt’ aptly titled, ‘Severed Spots’ incorporates a recently purchased Damien Hirst spot painting called ‘L-Isoleucine T-Butyl Ester’. The painting, created in 2018, and consisting of 88 individual coloured spots, was bought by them for $30,485…

And here comes the ‘stunt’ element…

To create ‘Severed Spots’, MSCHF carefully removed each dot from the original Hirst spot painting and were selling them individually for $480 via the website severedspots.com. We use the word ‘were’, because they have now all been sold!

A quick calculation reveals a lovely $11,755 profit.

But that’s not the end of this. They are also auctioning the original Damien Hirst spot painting, minus the spots.

All the 'Severed Spots' are sold. We wonder how much the '88 holes' will sell for?
All the ‘Severed Spots’ are sold. We wonder how much the ’88 holes’ will sell for?

As of writing, the current bid is a whopping $126,500. If this is the final figure, then that would result in an impressive $138,255 profit. Not a bad return for cutting up someone else’s painting.

Which makes us ask the question, ‘I wonder what Hirst thinks of this’? Who the hell bought them? Also, is this ethical? We’ve spoken about appropriation in art before, but we wonder, is this is a step too far, or just genius at work?

Hirst is not averse to lawsuits, having threatened artists before for using his work. A classic example is the legal action threatend against street artist Cartrain for incorporating Hirst’s skull within his work.

The irony is it’s no secret that Hirst has appropriated many other artist’s work throughout his career, but we still wonder if there will be a knock at MSCHF’s door one day soon.

Having said that, with a name that’s short for Mischief, we doubt they’ll be that bothered, in fact quite the opposite. From our research into the company, it would seem their ideas are based around controversy and trying to cause a reaction.

Who are MSCHF?

As we said at the start, you may not have heard of MSCHF (we hadn’t until we came across this story), so who exactly are they?

According to businessinsider.com, MSCHF was set up by Military Academy dropout Gabriel Whaley with the idea of creating products that poke fun and push boundaries.

With a collective of 10 working under the MSCHF banner, Gabriel and his team aim to produce all manner of weird and wonderful items.

In 2019 they created the ‘Jesus Shoe’. These were in fact pairs of Nike Air Max 97s filled with blessed holy water, a crucifixion on the laces, a red inner fragranced with Frankincense and a holy seal on the box. The trainers went on sale for the bargain price of $1425 in reference to the biblical scripture Matthew 14:25 written on the box…

MSCHF's Nike Air Max 'Jesus Shoes'
MSCHF’s Nike Air Max ‘Jesus Shoes’

…after these shoes went viral across the internet, they sold out in within a minute. Now collectors are paying up to 8 times that for a pair on secondary markets.

If ‘Severed Spots’ and the ‘Jesus Shoes’ are a little out of your price range, then you could have tried a $10 bath bomb shaped as an electric toaster… but, like all of the products they launch, they’re sold out.

MSCHF toaster bath bomb
The ‘toaster’ bath bomb, like all of their products, is sold out

Clearly MSCHF has a strong following, and even the business world believes in their wacky ideas. In Jan 2020 they managed to raise $8m from investors which will certainly go a long way in making their ideas a reality.

We have to take our hats off to this crazy crew of imaginative individuals. When we first read about the Severed Spots ‘stunt’, we initially laughed, thinking, ‘you can’t do that, can you?’, but that’s exactly what they’ve done… what most of us wouldn’t even consider.

Creativity is all about boundaries, getting people to open their minds to possibilities of what can and can’t be done… and MSCHF’s ethos of sticking two fingers up at normality is surely the dream of most people.

We can’t wait to see what they do next.

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