Steve Monk-Chipman. Courtesy of I Am Vincent.

The competition is heating up for I am Vincent, a contest launched in June by novelist and artist Douglas Coupland that aims to identify the world’s most convincing Vincent van Gogh lookalike.

Nearly 1,000 would-be doppelgängers have applied in the hopes of taking the top honor, which comes with a prize of €5,000. Coupland will also fly the winner to Vancouver to create a bronze sculpture of his head.

Vincent van Gogh lookalike Petter Samuelson. Courtesy of I Am Vincent.

“The Van Gogh comparison isn’t something I’d really had before—but weirdly, a colleague said I reminded him of Van Gogh” just before a friend pointed out the competition to him, said one of the current leaders, Oxford graphic designer Steve Monk-Chipman, to the Mirror. “My facial hair is relatively new, and I think that’s the key to the similarity!”

While the Daily Mail and the Mirror are all abuzz over Monk-Chipman, the Brit is currently in just sixth place. That’s impressive, but he trails well behind the current leader, Sweden’s Petter Samuelson, who has 48,023 votes to Monk-Chipman’s 16,784.

Vincent van Gogh lookalike Ivar Arpi. Courtesy of I Am Vincent.

For his part, Samuelson is thoroughly enjoying the ride. “The commitment shown by friends and strangers has been magical. It’s been shared and promoted, films and paintings have been created based on my pictures. It’s insanely fun,” he told Swedish news outlet the Local.

He is one of two Swedes in the top three, along with Ivar Arpi (23,644 votes). Samuelson attributes their collective success to “Swedish melancholy,” adding that the two men planned to get together “on a foggy morning for a ‘paint-off.'”

A less successful Vincent van Gogh lookalike. Courtesy of I Am Vincent.

Reportedly, the competition is so fierce that Arpi has promised to cut off his ear if he wins. Sandwiched between the two Swedes is Onno Heesbeen of the Netherlands, nipping at Samuelson’s heels with 47,530 votes.

New York’s Robert Reynolds, whose noted resemblance to the late artist has made him a minor star on the city’s subway system, currently ranks ninth with 12,380 votes. Along with Benjamin Williamson (fourth, 17,468 votes) and Kerry Ryan Quakenbush (eighth, 12,632 votes), he is one of three Americans currently in the top 10.

Otto Heesbeen. Courtesy of I Am Vincent.

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