“The Stormtrooper Scandal” Review

“The Stormtrooper Scandal” Review

The Stormtrooper Scandal (BBC2) 

Rating:

Not that anyone uses dictionaries these days, but mine defines ‘disgruntled’ as, ‘put into an ill humour, or chagrined’.

Artist and former special forces soldier Bran Symondson said, in the art scam documentary The Stormtrooper Scandal, that he knew a couple of people felt ‘disgruntled’ when their work was traded online for thousands of pounds without their permission.

Dictionary definitions must have changed a bit, because one of the artists was talking about tracking down the scammer, ‘nailing him to the floor and sawing his legs off’. Another merely wanted to ‘pop around and break his legs’.

If that’s what contemporary artists are like when they’re disgruntled, I wouldn’t like to meet one when he’s properly miffed.

Symondson wasn’t the target of their wrath. The man accused of perpetrating the scam (though he insisted he was simply the unwitting face, a pawn of online criminals) was dealer and chancer Ben Moore, who achieved mild infamy as ‘the Pink Stormtrooper’ — attending art events in the spray-painted armour of a Star Wars soldier.

“The Stormtrooper Scandal” Review

Artist and former special forces soldier Bran Symondson (pictured) said, in the art scam documentary The Stormtrooper Scandal, that he knew a couple of people felt ‘disgruntled’ when their work was traded online for thousands of pounds without their permission

Ben cajoled well-known artists, including Jake and Dinos Chapman, David Bailey, Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor, into decorating stormtrooper helmets. These were auctioned off for charity.

But fed up of seeing people making fortunes when he was living in a council flat, Ben hatched a plan — the mendacity and illegality of which was outdone only by its sheer stupidity.

He sold online photos of the helmets, certifying each as unique with an NFT. That’s a ‘Non Fungible Token’, though it could equally stand for ‘Not Flipping There’ . . . because when lawyers at Lucasfilm, which owns all the rights to Star Wars, got wind of Ben’s racket, they ordered him to delete all the images.

By then, the artists had also heard about it, and even those who weren’t actively disgruntled did seem quite aggrieved, vexed, peevish, narked or generally cheesed off.

But the real malcontents were the silly dipsticks who thought a picture of a stormtrooper’s mask, splattered with spots or daubed with stripes, could be worth anything up to £50,000.

Digital artist Chemical X (pictured) speaks on the documentary abut dealer and chancer Ben Moore, who cajoled well-known artists into decorating stormtrooper helmets

 Digital artist Chemical X (pictured) speaks on the documentary abut dealer and chancer Ben Moore, who cajoled well-known artists into decorating stormtrooper helmets 

The fanatical excitement stirred by memorabilia linked to these children’s films, compounded by the greed of investors hoping to make big profits on the photos, meant the auction sold out within five seconds. 

Incredibly, buyers didn’t even know which pictures they were buying. Ripe for a rip-off, they were simply entered into a lottery for the ‘artworks’.

What director Stuart Bernard inadvertently revealed in this film is how fake the entire art world has now become. 

Devoid of talent and with nothing to say, all the artists, agents, curators and galleries are conspiring to peddle valueless trash to clueless twerps.

Even now, spiralling into bankruptcy with a £500,000 legal bill, Ben Moore can’t see he did anything wrong. Stumbling and mumbling through his interview, he declared: ‘When I say I’m sorry, it’s not saying I regret doing it.’

Why would he regret it? It’s art, man.

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