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What is the Point of a Print?

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

You may have asked yourself, "why spend money on a signed copy when it isn't the original?" when you saw the promotion for Æra Hope's latest poster print collaboration with Emmanuel Ronald Bertrand. A very valid thought, and one we thought was worth exploring!

Consider Leonardo da Vinci's 1503 The Mona Lisa or Basquiat's 1981 Untitled "The Skull." A copy of either is rendered worthless compared to the original because the authentic value associated with being touched by the artist or the decades, even centuries of legends that follow the piece does not exist in a copy. There's no authenticity and this is showcased in the devaluation of a copy, being worth less than 0.0000001% of the original art.

Poster Prints of Basquiat's 1981 Untitled "The Skull."

The Mona Lisa (pictured below) is currently valued at over $850 million, but what's to say what you see locked up behind rope, bullet proof glass and three security guards, inside the Louvre isn't just a copy of the Mona Lisa? I mean think about it. Wouldn't you rather put up an authentic looking replica that looks so real and convincing, the original doesn't have to get damaged by the flash of however many smartphone photos are taken of the piece per day?

Basquiat's Untitled "The Skull" (pictured below) is now valued at over $110 million and let's face it, you probably aren't part of the exclusive art circles with direct contact to the Basquiat family or access to one of his original pieces to show case in your personal art gallery--which also doubles as your living room and entertainment space for the many guest you must impress.

The point is, there is only one original and most people do not have access to it. That is why copies exist. But copies are deemed worthless place holders for real art because there is no authentication or valued connection with the artist. There is no history. There is no rarity. Right?

Perhaps, but ponder this:

Time travel back to 1890. Would you purchase a poster print of The Red Vineyard (pictured below) from Van Gogh for 400 francs (modern day equivalent of $2000)?

Probably not. Van Gogh created 900 paintings in his life time (1853 - 1890) and died tragically having sold only 1 of his 900 paintings -- rendering his art as worthless as a copy by his society. However, now in 2021, access to just one of his 900 paintings can cost close to $100 million dollars! Now, let's imagine we could take the concept of a poster print collaboration through a time capsule. 15 high quality prints of Van Gogh's 1890 The Red Vineyard are made available at 20% of the price because Van Gogh was feeling generous at the time and consented access to 15 prints--signed, numbered, dated and authenticated by Van Gogh himself. No one paid him any attention then but now, if there were signed, numbered, dated and authenticated Van Gogh prints in circulation, they would be considered pretty valuable because they aren't just copies! They are part of a limited number of authenticated prints approved by the artist themself.

The value is in this direct connection with the artist within their lifetime. This is what makes an exclusive poster print collection incredibly valuable but most importantly, it respects the artist. While Basquiat's 1981 Untitled "The Skull" is now worth more than $100 million, he asked specifically that his artwork NOT be commercialized after his death. Yet we see his iconic symbols all over the latest collections of designer handbags. And while Van Gogh's pieces are worth millions of dollars, the living artist made only 400 francs from his art -- a modern day value of $2000 total!

So why buy a poster print? Because it's an investment that respects the artist and appreciates in value the minute you claim a copy of your own. And while the original piece of Emmanuel Ronald Bertrand's Celestial Sphere I has already been purchased (pictured below), a few more people can claim a piece of the time capsule; an authenticated copy with direction connection to the artist, time stamped with his signature, made exclusive by the limited quantity and still available to be claimed until 08.15.2021.

Emmanuel Ronald Bertrand's original 'Celestial Sphere I' on display by the owner in his personal residence. Purchased July 2018 at Bertrand's first art exhibition.


This is an Æra Hope x N. writing collaboration.

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