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James Stephen George Boggs (January 16, 1955 – January 22, 2017) was an American artist, best known for his hand-drawn depictions of banknotes.


Life

Boggs was born Stephen Litzner on January 16, 1955 in Woodbury,
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
. He attended Brandon High School in
Brandon, Florida Brandon is an unincorporated community An unincorporated area is a region not governed by a local municipal corporation. Similarly, an unincorporated community is a Human settlement, settlement not governed by its own local municipal corpor ...
, but was expelled in his junior year.


Art career

Boggs began drawing currency in 1984, when a Chicago waitress accepted a drawing of a one-dollar bill in payment for his restaurant tab. His drawings of currency, depicting only a single side of the note, came to be known as "Boggs notes". Boggs notes were both art objects and part of a performance. Boggs would exchange the notes only for their
face value The face value, sometimes called nominal value, is the value of a coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine ...
: when he drew a $100 bill, he exchanged it for $100 worth of goods. He then sold any change he received, the receipt, and sometimes the goods he purchased as his "artwork", typically to
art dealer An art dealer is a person or company that buys and sells works of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthetics, aesthetic value. Except for "work of art", which may be ...
s and
collector Collector(s) may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Collector (character), a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe * Collector (2011 film), ''Collector'' (2011 film), a 2011 Indian Malayalam film * Collector (2016 film), ''Collector'' ( ...
s. Boggs would tell a collector where he spent the note and the details of the transaction, but he did not sell the notes into the art market directly. The buyer would then track down the person in possession of the note in order to purchase it. Boggs noted that after the initial transaction the notes would be resold for much more than their face value, with one Boggs note reportedly being resold for $420,000. One of his better-known works is a series of bills done for the Florida United Numismatists' annual convention. Denominations from $1 to $50 (and perhaps higher) feature designs taken from the reverse sides of contemporary U.S. currency, modified slightly through the changing of captions (notably, "The United States of America" is changed to "Florida United Numismatists" and the denomination wording is occasionally replaced by the acronym "FUN") and visual details (the mirroring of
Monticello Monticello ( ) was the primary plantation A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coffee, tea, coco ...

Monticello
on the $2, the Supreme Court building, as opposed to the
U.S. Treasury The Department of the Treasury (USDT) is the national treasury A treasury is either *A government department related to finance and taxation, a Finance minister, finance ministry. *A place or location where treasure, such as currency or precio ...

U.S. Treasury
, on the $10 and an alternate angle for the
White House The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C., NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. preside ...

White House
on the $20). They were printed in bright orange on one side and featured Boggs's autograph and thumbprint on the other. Other works of money art that he designed include the mural ''All the World's a Stage'', roughly based on a
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

Bank of England
Series D £20 note and featuring
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

Shakespeare
an themes, as well as banknote-sized creations that depict Boggs's ideas as to what U.S. currency should look like. A $100 bill featuring
Harriet Tubman Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross, March 10, 1913) was an American Abolitionism in the United States, abolitionist and political activist. Born into Slavery in the United States, slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some 13 missions ...

Harriet Tubman
is one known example. Boggs and his work are chronicled in ''Boggs: A Comedy of Values'', by
Lawrence Weschler Lawrence Weschler (born 1952) is an author of works of creative nonfiction. A graduate of Cowell College of the University of California, Santa Cruz (1974), Weschler was for over twenty years (1981–2002) a staff writer at ''The New Yorker'', wh ...
, published by the
University of Chicago Press The University of Chicago Press is the largest and one of the oldest university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to t ...
.


Legality and arrests

Boggs viewed his "transactions" as a type of
performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be witnessed live or through documentation, spontaneously developed or written, and is traditionally presented to a pu ...
, but the authorities often viewed them with suspicion. Boggs aimed to have his audience question and investigate just what it is that makes "money" valuable in the first place. He steadfastly denied that he was a
counterfeiter To counterfeit means to imitate something authentic, with the intent to steal, destroy, or replace the original, for use in illegal transactions, or otherwise to deceive individuals into believing that the fake is of equal or greater value than ...
or forger, but rather maintained that a good-faith transaction between informed parties is certainly not fraud, even if the item transacted happens to resemble negotiable currency. Boggs was first arrested for counterfeiting in England in 1986, and was successfully defended by the human rights lawyer
Geoffrey Robertson QC Geoffrey Ronald Robertson (born 30 September 1946) is a human rights barrister, academic, author and broadcaster. He holds Multiple citizenship, dual Australian and British citizenship.
& Mark Stephens and acquitted. As detailed in
Geoffrey Robertson Geoffrey Ronald Robertson (born 30 September 1946) is a human rights barrister, academic, author and broadcaster. He holds Multiple citizenship, dual Australian and British citizenship.
Geoffrey Robertson
's book ''The Justice Game'', all
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

Bank of England
notes now carry a
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
message on the face as a direct result of Boggs' activities, the idea being that if they cannot secure a counterfeiting charge, then they can at least secure a copyright violation. He was arrested for a second time in Australia in 1989, acquitted and awarded the equivalent of US$20,000 in damages by the presiding judge. Boggs' home was raided three times between 1990 and 1992 by the
United States Secret Service The United States Secret Service (USSS or Secret Service) is a Federal law enforcement in the United States, federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security charged with con ...
on suspicion of counterfeiting. In the raids 1300 items were confiscated, although no legal case was brought against him. In September 2006, Boggs was arrested in Florida and charged with possession of
methamphetamine Methamphetamine (contracted from ) is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is mainly used as a recreational drug use, recreational drug and less commonly as a second-line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disord ...

methamphetamine
, possession of drug paraphernalia, and carrying a
concealed weapon Concealed carry, or carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), is the practice of carrying a weapon (usually a sidearm (weapon), sidearm such as a handgun), either in proximity to or on one's person or in public places in a manner that hides or :wikt:co ...
. He failed to appear in court a few months later.


Death

Boggs died on January 22, 2017 in Tampa at the age of 62.


Museum collections

Boggs's works are held in numerous collections, including: *
Art Institute of Chicago The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_t ...

Art Institute of Chicago
www.artic.edu
/ref> *
Smithsonian Institution The Smithsonian Institution ( ), or simply, the Smithsonian, is a group of museums and education and research centers, the largest such complex in the world, created by the U.S. government "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". Founded ...

Smithsonian Institution
*
Babson College Babson College is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two decade ...
, Wellesley, Massachusetts *
Norton Museum of Art The Norton Museum of Art is an art museum located in West Palm Beach, Florida. Its collection includes over 7,000 works, with a concentration in Western art history, European, Visual arts of the United States, American, and Chinese art as well as ...

Norton Museum of Art
, West Palm Beach, Florida *
Tampa Museum of Art The Tampa Museum of Art is located in Downtown Tampa, downtown Tampa, Florida, Tampa, Florida. It exhibits modern and contemporary art, as well as Art in Ancient Greece, Greek, Ancient Rome, Roman, and Etruscan civilization, Etruscan antiquities. ...

Tampa Museum of Art
, Tampa, Florida *
Spencer Museum of Art The Spencer Museum of Art is an art museum located on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas. The museum houses collection that currently numbers more than 47,000 artworks and artifacts in all media. The collection spans the history o ...
, Lawrence, Kansas *
British Museum The British Museum, in the Bloomsbury Bloomsbury is a district in the West End of London The West End of London (commonly referred to as the West End) is a district of Central London Central London is the innermost part of Lond ...

British Museum
, London, England


See also

Other money artists include * Mark Wagner is an artist best known for meticulous collages made of United States banknotes *
William Harnett William Michael Harnett (August 10, 1848 – October 29, 1892) was an Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Norther ...
* John F. Peto * Tim Prusmack *
John Haberle John Haberle (1856–1933) was an American painter in the ''trompe-l'œil'' (literally, "fool the eye") style. His still lifes of ordinary objects are painted in such a way that the painting can be mistaken for the objects themselves. He is conside ...
, who made ''
trompe-l'œil ''Trompe-l'œil'' ( , ; ) is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion Within visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment thr ...

trompe-l'œil
'' paintings of U.S. currency in the 1880s *
Otis Kaye Otis Kaye (1885–1974) was an American artist during the early 20th century. He is noted especially for ''trompe-l'œil'' paintings of U.S. currency. Life and work Otis Kaye carried on the ''trompe-l'œil'' tradition of William Harnett, J ...
, who made both paintings similar to Harnett, and also actual-size pen-and-ink drawings from the 1920s to the 1950s * Emanuel Ninger (Jim the Penman), who drew counterfeit notes by hand, with the intent to defraud, in the 1880s *
Genpei Akasegawa was a pseudonym of Japanese people, Japanese artist , born March 27, 1937 – October 26, 2014 in Yokohama. He used another pseudonym, , for literary works. A member of the influential artist groups Neo-Dada Organizers and Hi-Red Center, Akasegaw ...


References


External links


PBS interview and video of a Boggs exchange


* ttps://www.wnycstudios.org/story/ceci-nest-pas-un-dollar Ceci N'est Pas Un Dollar
On the Media ''On the Media'' (''OTM'') is an hour-long weekly radio program hosted by Brooke Gladstone, covering journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of report Image:Hurt Report cover page.png, 220px, Example of a front page of a ...
episode of October 12, 2018, Full Faith and Credit. {{DEFAULTSORT:Boggs, James Stewart George 1955 births 2017 deaths American draughtsmen American performance artists American contemporary artists Banknotes of the United States People from Woodbury, New Jersey Artists from New Jersey 20th-century American artists 20th-century male artists 21st-century American artists 21st-century male artists