Chinese artist gets attention and visit from authorities
- Published: Jan 23, 2023, 9 AM
J.S.W. Boggs, the American artist known for his run-ins with the law because of his lifelike hand-drawings of currency died in 2017, but his spirit lives on in the work of his successors. The most recent one, in China’s Guangdong (formerly Canton) province, is so successful that he prompted a visit from China’s anti-counterfeiting police.
A story in the South China Morning Post on Jan. 1 described a 30-year-old “artful forger” by the name of Shi Yunlong who, in the Boggs tradition, makes realistic drawings of United States paper money by hand, but in the 21st century has taken it a step further. Since September 2021 he has become an internet celebrity by posting videos on Douyin, as TikTok is called in Chinese, of himself drawing Series 1996 and 2013 $100 Federal Reserve notes at his home.
The Post explains that Shi started with hand drawings but then expanded his repertoire to include security features such as watermarks and intaglio printing, and then last November he made three copper plates for $100 bills.
He explained that to entertain his followers he also does bank notes from other countries, such as the £50 note from the Bank of England and the $100 trillion note from Zimbabwe. During the recent World Cup in Qatar, he crafted a ticket for the final game, and a supposed airline ticket from Hong Kong to Doha.
He said he was inspired by a 2018 Hong Kong crime thriller called Project Gutenberg that included step-by-step counterfeiting of U.S. dollars.
He has attracted over a million followers on Chinese social media, but not all of them are just fans. Some seem so impressed that the paper says many are “offering jokingly to be his business partner and to provide him with the techniques and machines to make real counterfeit money.”
The videos also grabbed the attention of authorities — the anti-counterfeiting police, China’s public security bureau, and staff from anti-scam police offices. Legal officials used their official Douyin accounts to comment on his videos, and mentioned that he was being watched.
According to the Post, “After Shi reassured them that he only painted one-sided notes, the officers let him off with a warning ‘not to draw Renminbi and Hong Kong dollar banknotes.’
Shi is a former flight attendant and garden landscape planner, according to the Post.
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