Banksy, Cut It Out
At least 100,000 Di Faced Tenners were printed in August 2004 – an equivalent of more than £1 million of fake currency was created. They were initially crafted as part of a public art stunt which involved dropping suitcases full of the fake notes into the crowd at the Notting Hill Carnival as well as the Reading Festival. Predictably, people scrambled to get their hands on the “free money,” and even after they realized the bills were counterfeit – attempted to use it at the festival and elsewhere anyway. The stunt was a piece of social commentary from Banksy about the lengths people are willing to go to for money, and it’s also possible he saw humor in getting his own “currency” into circulation. It’s often said that “money makes the world ’round,” and Banksy reminds us that a crowd’s instinctive reaction to “free money” is equal parts unsurprising and a bit disappointing.
Instead of “Bank of England” the note reads “Banksy of England.”
Under the banner, an inscription reads “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the ultimate price” an ominous allusion to the fate of the late Princess, at the hands of the media. Beneath Charles Darwin, the bill reads, “Trust No One” The note is printed with inks on paper that are nearly identical to those used on official UK-issued currency.
A few years later, when Banksy created Pest Control Office to verify, authenticate, and issue Certificates of Authenticity to genuine Banksy works of art, he decided to incorporate the bills into the certificate of authenticity itself. Pest Control rips the bill in half, staples one half to the Certificate of Authenticity, and retains the other half for their records to help verify the provenance by writing the same set of numbers on each half of the bill. If they ever see a certificate of authenticity with numbers that do not match those on the half of the bill they retained, they know that they’re likely dealing with a fake piece.
Pictures on Walls, Banksy‘s print publisher, also released a print in 2004, of a sheet of 5 uncut Di-Faced Tenners in two columns as an edition of 50 prints all signed by the artist.
Di-Faced Tenners, 2004
Medium: Offset lithograph in colors on wove paper, printed on both sides of the sheet
Size: 45×30 cm (17 5/8 x 12 3/8 inches)
Edition: 50 signed
On February 2019, The British Museum announced that it added its first piece by Banksy to its collection, the Di-Faced Tenner that would join the British Museum’s department of coins, medals, and other currency (rather than prints and drawings).