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“Buy my art . . . or I’ll kick your ass.”
June 26, 2012 7:08 PM   Subscribe

Sponge-Fraud!: 'Artist Todd White seemingly had it all. With a multi-million-dollar art brand, collectors and clients ranging from Sylvester Stallone to Coca-Cola, and a burgeoning reputation in art-mad Britain, his days as lead character designer of SpongeBob SquarePants were but a distant memory. But, as David Kushner reports, when his confidante and gallerist Peggy Howell reported a burglary of his paintings at the hand of ninjas, things took a turn for the even stranger.'

Suit and counter-suit
posted by the man of twists and turns (23 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess those paintings and this scheme are about what I'd expect from a "Spongebob designer."
posted by cmoj at 7:16 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clifford Bailey is featured as well; these seem to be a little close for comfort.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:17 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


What would Ren and Stimpy have to say about all this?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:22 PM on June 26, 2012


So she was selling fake fakes?
posted by mediated self at 7:24 PM on June 26, 2012


It's rare that such an interesting story leaves me feeling so unsympathetic to everyone involved!
posted by freebird at 8:03 PM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


All of his women have duckface! Chipmunkface?
posted by nicebookrack at 8:13 PM on June 26, 2012


He uses the same models as the LavaLife ads.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2012


Oh FFS. "Embellished Giclee" prints. They hand-paint varnish over an inkjet print to make it look like brush strokes. At least when Kinkade started doing this, they made a silicone cast of the actual oil painting and then cast the fake relief over a serigraph print of the painting. It might have been fake but at least it used something resembling a fine art process underneath all the fakery.

I don't think I've ever advocated the burning of an entire "artistic" medium before. But put them all in front of me and I will light the match. The varnish will be an excellent accelerant.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:45 PM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Please tell me that this is Peggy Howell's attempt at forging Todd's signature http://www.artbrokerage.com/artist/Todd-White/Woods-and-Irons-35350
posted by matimer at 8:53 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Giclée is a neologism coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne[1] for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers.

I had no idea. I thought it was something else.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:57 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I spent a lot of time in my Iris shop telling people no, Iris prints aren't archival, no, Nash doesn't have anything that my Iris printer doesn't have, look right here in the specs it says these prints are not archival, and I even printed some of the prints he sells and I told them we made no warranty of archival quality and he damn well better not either.

And he laughed all the way to the bank.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:08 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The most interesting fact is that SpongeBob was created by a marine biologist. I don't see Todd White's name in the credits, but maybe he's in the fine print somewhere.
posted by ovvl at 9:19 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


And that’s when Howell decided to file a class action suit. “We have come to discover that up to eight people were hired by the Art of White to embellish and number the pieces. We … claim, that hundreds if not thousands of Todd White’s signed and numbered prints may or may not be authentic reproductions. Because several people have come forward and admitted that they themselves signed or embellished prints, we allege that from 2005 to 2007, several thousand images that White claimed he signed and embellished, he didn’t even touch,” said Howell.

Why, he's no more authentic than Salvador Dalí!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't the police usually get involved over assault, kidnapping and breaking and entering?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:34 PM on June 26, 2012


Ctrl+F the first link for "police," Kid.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:40 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with the art style? I don't know about you, but I don't have a spare quarter mil laying around to buy an original.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:57 PM on June 26, 2012


At least when Kinkade started doing this, they made a silicone cast of the actual oil painting and then cast the fake relief over a serigraph print of the painting.

I seem to remember seeing versions of paints like this at the old Museum Store or such that was that, but reproductions of famous classical paintings. Never got one, but seemed neat that you could then have the image but also the texture of the original.
posted by usagizero at 12:03 AM on June 27, 2012


Clifford Bailey is featured as well; these seem to be a little close for comfort.

Wait until you see his new animated character, Coraltom Roundtrousers!

Anyway, why does this story read so much like a rejected plot for a Coen brothers movie?
posted by Skeptic at 12:27 AM on June 27, 2012


I don't see Todd White's name in the credits, but maybe he's in the fine print somewhere.

Todd White - character designer - 19 episodes, 1999-2005

Their angles, the media must have.
posted by dhartung at 1:02 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ah, the art world. Nothing sells like a good story, and the more tawdry the better. Ninjas, indeed.

At least Warhol called it, "The Factory." He carefully documented it, and made no bones about having a production staff pulling multiple-run offset lithograph prints and keeping up with the numbering. But he knew that the secret to success depended on scarcity, cataloging, and protecting his signature on the prints. That's why his prints went from $400 each to $4000 each on the day he died. There won't be any more. Guaranteed.

To an extent, Kinkaid followed the rules. He just took production to the stratosphere, and removed the value of scarcity. Having print number 14/100000 isn't going to help you or your heirs fifty years from now. It's like a commemorative plate.

Salvador Dali is alleged to have signed blank sheets of print paper for future runs. There is some speculation that he might have had "signature assistance" as his time grew short, therefore the suspicion. However, he was a surrealist, and that fits his credo. Time will tell.

The giclee movement has been allowed to thrive because it's so easy to spot one. It's really no different from a poster copy in a museum gift shop. At a decent price, it's okay. Presenting a numbered, "limited" edition of crap ink on crap paper with a signature on it? Not likely to be a valuable investment now, or ever.

The problem always goes to the Antiques Roadshows of the future. Carefully cataloged prints like Warhols will be known and recognized, Dalis may have shock value. Giclees will have the same value as posters of yesterday, depending on folds, tears, foxing, how unusual it is to see one in good condition, and how many are floating around at yard sales and swap meets for one credit.

Oh, and whether there are any interesting stories attached to it.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:19 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Capitalizing on his rebellious persona, Howell made a cover for her overstuffed binder of press clippings on White. It showed a photo of him mugging for the camera, over which she wrote the phrase: “Buy my art . . . or I’ll kick your ass.”

Christ, what assholes. They deserve each other.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:43 AM on June 27, 2012


...people were hired by the Art of White...

Just the name alone should have warned people off.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:44 AM on June 27, 2012


I seem to remember seeing versions of paints like this at the old Museum Store or such that was that, but reproductions of famous classical paintings. Never got one, but seemed neat that you could then have the image but also the texture of the original.

Let's call them facsimiles of the original. Nobody's going to let you pour silicone molding compound over "Starry Night" so you can take an accurate surface impression. You'll just have to make your own imitation of the surface.

You could probably do it non-invasively with modern technology like a laser scanner to get the depth, then laser sintering to create a duplicate depth map as a a solid. Then take a silicone cast from the solid. Somehow I don't think anyone would go to that much trouble.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:39 PM on June 27, 2012


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