In 2007, Louis Vuitton set up a boutique inside Takeshi Murakami's exhibit at MOCA. There, they sold handbags for around $1000 and prints for between $6000 and $10,000—art generally being considered worth more than mere fashion. A gourmet butter mogul named Clint Arthur bought one of those prints, took it home, and then somehow discovered that it was made of the very same materials that went into the bag, meaning that in theory he could have saved several thousand dollars by hacking up a purse and stringing the fabric on a frame. So he's suing LV for fraud.
Is this the best "but is it art?" story of all time? Maybe! For one thing, Murakami's game has always been to blur the line between art and commerce, so you could argue that the very experience of being tricked into paying fine-art prices for scraps from a factory is in itself a kind of collector's item. For another thing, one of LV's legal arguments is that Arthur should have noticed his print was on sale next to handbags that looked just like it, to which Arthur has maturely responded, "It's not my responsibility to inspect their handbags. I'm only interested in collecting fine art." After all, why would a serious art collector lower himself to notice handbags? It's not like the famous artist designed those! And thirdly, surely the guy who owns a gourmet butter company knows a thing or two about ridiculous mark-ups. The problem isn't that LV charged several thousand dollars for a deconstructed handbag—the problem is he paid it.
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