4Chan Conceptual Artwork Reaches $90,000 on eBay

Are we witnessing Internet history, or just a Conceptual art prank?

The eBay listing of the 4chan post "artwork."

The eBay listing of the 4chan post “artwork.”

Online message board 4chan, notorious for its irreverent sense of humor, has spawned what is either a bizarre art project or a massive flipping of the bird to the art world: a photo of a 4chan post, being auctioned as art on eBay. The auction item, Artwork by Anonymous, reads “Art used to be something to cherish. Now literally anything could be art. This post is art.” The existentialist musing could prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, with bidding rapidly approaching six figures and just under seven hours left to bid. If the sale is legitimate (which artnet News seriously doubts), this would have to top even the Kickstarter potato salad.

The post seems to have started out innocently enough, on Tuesday, but by the next day, according to screen captures posted on Funny Junk, the idea of attempting to sell the piece was proving hard to resist. “Could I get away with it? Think that this would be legal on Ebay?” the poster asked. In response, another anonymous user promised “You do it and I’ll fucking bid on it.”

Amusingly, the auctioned version of the post is clearly a digital photograph of a computer screen, with a camera’s flash reflected in the glass, not a more elegant screen grab. It’s since been printed out on “standard printing paper.” The listing’s details explain the work’s subject as “life” and technique as “typing with Copy and Paste.”

The listing doesn’t even bother to make some sort of conceptual case for the unconventional piece, simply describing it under item condition as “a one of a kind work of art by Anonymous.” Apparently, that’s enough to entice internauts, who have bid this baby up from a starting price of $500 to over $90,000—at the time of this writing, with just under seven hours left before the auction’s end.

Meanwhile, an abstract portrait of David Hasselhoff painted live on America’s Got Talent has failed to find any takers at a mere $5,000. The artist, John Kilduff, or Mr. Let’s Paint, creates his works while running on a treadmill and blending healthy smoothies—clearly putting in more effort than Anonymous over here.

As redditors are quick to point out, the 4chan bids are probably fake, and will likely be withdrawn before the auction’s end. It is also very easy to cancel an eBay sale after the fact, or for a buyer to simply refuse to pay without any real repercussions. “I have a feeling it’s just become a circlejerk at this point,” said one user of the rapidly rising price.

There is the outside chance that at least some of the bidders are real. “It’ll be funny if the winning bid is some idiot who thinks that the picture is going to be part of internet history or something,” postulates one redditor. But let’s be real: stranger things have happened.

If you feel compelled to throw your hat in the ring, be forewarned that “this artwork will be sold with no refunds accepted.” On the plus side, free shipping!

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