Before Richard Prince appropriated the photos of Instagram users, and long before the SuicideGirls re-appropriated their photos, the lazy “artist” became famous for stealing re-photographing Sam Abell’s iconic cowboy photos.
Prince took cigarette ads with Abell’s Marlboro Man images and photographed them in a way that basically “cropped” the text and logo out.
With Prince selling one of these photos for almost $1.3 million in 2005 and another for $3.4 million a few years later, he became a millionaire off of Abell’s work – who did not receive a single cent from either deal.
As you’d expect Abell certainly had an opinion on Prince’s actions, as well as the art establishment’s attitude towards stolen art, and he expressed it with admirable calmness.
Below is a video interview from 2008, after his re-photographed image was sold by Prince for a record-breaking $3.4 million: