While it’s disturbingly easy to get duped by counterfeit products in China, a Chinese company responsible for a series of exhibitions claiming to feature works by Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami is taking the whole idea to a new level.
NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, reports that after touring in a few Chinese cities since the spring, the exhibitions were found to be entirely fake, with zero participation from the two prominent contemporary artists whatsoever.
Advertised as a joint production by Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami, whose shows attract long lines across the globe, the exhibitions in China kicked off in Guangzhou in April and made stops in cities such as Wuhan in the following months.
It was not until September, when the tour came to Shanghai, that the exhibition’s organizers had to call off the show at the demand of the two artists’ representatives, who asserted that all of the works displayed in the exhibitions were fake. But the exhibition in Changsha, which was taking place simultaneously, is still open to the public. It’s reported that the admission fee is around 60 yuan ($8.50).
“This is extremely malicious,” Murakami’s attorney, Hiroshi Kamiyama, told the Nikkei Asian Review, adding that the artist is considering legal action against the organizers once they are identified. Meanwhile, the legal team behind Kusama said that it might “pursue both civil and criminal action for copyright infringement and violations of Chinese laws,” the Guardian reports.
According to NHK, while it’s unlikely for average art lovers to discover the phony nature of the exhibitions, experts familiar with the two artists’ works can notice the difference immediately.
On the Chinese internet, many people said they were embarrassed by the news and felt bad for those who paid to see an entire collection of fake works. “How could someone be this shameless? I can’t believe they really did it,” a Weibo user commented (in Chinese).