The novelty of former President George W. Bush’s recently revealed artwork is already producing cheap knock offs. Merchandise with prints of Bush’s paintings of world leaders have popped up on an art site called Society 6, and are being sold by an artist identified as ~YSK.
Now, there’s no reason to think that this artist has permission to reproduce Bush’s work—let alone sell them on handbags, throw pillows and wall clocks.
But the development is the latest volley in a series of questions about who really owns this intellectual property.
When Bush’s oil paintings of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and others were first revealed, it didn’t take long for questions to be raised about whether they were as original as they were being made out to be.
Is that a fun fact? Absolutely. Is it worth getting up in arms over? Allen argues no.
“Copyright infringement is the one thing he’s NOT guilty of,” Allen told ANIMAL New York.
So far, Bush hasn’t tried to sell his work of the world leaders for profit or for charity, though he has sold other works of art that don't appear to have been inspired by pre-existing images.
But even if your view of copyright infringement is more strict than Allen's, two wrongs probably don’t make a right.
And the “artist,” ~YSK, is clearly trolling Bush on another level as well.
The merchandise is being sold for between $15 and $40, and proceeds of this “sale” will go to War Child International, a family of independent humanitarian organizations which work together to help children and young people affected by armed conflict, it says. Bush is, of course, loathed by his detractors for his role in the wars in Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq.
But at least Bush is not alone. British graffiti artist Banksy has ironically had his “Destroy Captialism” stencil sold on Walmart.com’s marketplace by an unauthorized seller.
UPDATE: It looks like Society 6 has removed the ~YSK store as of 12:50 p.m. EST.