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Banksy’s Di-Faced Tenner, a screenprint of 5 £10 notes where Princess Diana’s portrait has replaced Queen Elizabeth’s, was first produced in 2004. It was released in 50 unsigned and 50 signed editions, as well as 32 Artist's Proofs.
The notes were rumoured to be a collaboration between Banksy and a street art associate named D*Face. But ‘Di Faced’ is actr
a pun on the word ‘defaced’ and refers to the fact that here Banksy has altered the familiar £10 note by replacing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with that of the late Princess Diana.
The piece can be seen as a comment on Diana’s estrangement of Diana from the royal family, her critique of the British royal institution, and the hounding by the press that ensued. Instead of ‘Bank of England’, the note reads, ‘Banksy of England’. Under the banner, an inscription reads, ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the ultimate price’, a reference to the fate of the late Princess, at the hands of the media.
The reverse side of the print remains mainly unchanged except for the motto ‘Trust No One’ written in the lower-right corner, beneath the portrait of Charles Darwin. The note is printed with inks on paper near identical to that used on official UK-issued currency.
At least 100,000 Di Faced Tenners were printed by Banksy in August 2004 – in total £1,000,000 in fake currency. Banksy created them for a public art stunt which involved dropping a suitcase full of the fake tenners into the crowd at the Notting Hill Carnival and at the Reading Festival. Some of these counterfeit notes were used by festival-goers as actual currency.
Unlike American artist J.S. Boggs, who is famous for his hand-drawn depictions of notes, Banksy was never wanted for any counterfeiting charges. A suitcase with Di Faced Tenners was also exhibited at Santa’s Ghetto, a show held at Charing Cross Road in December 2004. In his film Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy explains how he forged around £100,000,000 of notes – nearly all of which are supposedly still in his possession.
Banksy's project was a protest. It allowed him to demonstrate how people acted when there seemed to be money falling from the heavens. Though they clearly appeared as counterfeit notes, people tried to use them. Of course, ironically, once Banksy's hoax was revealed, the value of each tenner rapidly increased.
Now in large circulation, there are an estimated 100,000 authentic unsigned notes produced by Banksy as well as a huge amount of fake copies sold online by people pretending to have been at either Nottingham Carnival or Reading Festival back in 2004. In order to authenticate the tenner, Pest Control keeps the other half of the Di Faced Tenner and staples it to the certificate of authentication.
Di Faced Tenner is a commentary on the value of money and the value people place on it. The stunt quickly became one of Banksy’s most notorious art projects. In February 2019, more than a decade after Banksy clandestinely stuck a fake artwork in one of its galleries, the British Museum officially added its first piece by Banksy. In an ironic twist, Di Faced Tenner has joined the institution's collection of coins, medals and paper money.
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Di-Faced Tenner © Banksy 2004
The name ‘Di-Faced Tenner’ is a pun that works in two ways: firstly, because the face of the late Princess Diana (nicknamed ‘Lady Di’) has replaced Queen Elizabeth II’s on the front, and secondly, because the traditional British £10 note has been ‘defaced.’
Very Little Helps © Banksy 2008
To add to the ingenious multi-layered name of the piece, Di-Faced Tenner is reportedly a collaboration between Banksy and street artist D*Face. D*Face is known for his satirical works that break down society’s reliance on consumerism, celebrity, and materialism – a mission that marries up with Banksy’s and lends itself to a striking collaboration like this one.
At first, the Di-Faced Tenner looks almost identical to a traditional £10 note, apart from the swapped portraits. But on closer inspection, Banksy has altered a few more key parts. Instead of ‘Bank of England’ at the top, the note reads ‘Banksy of England’.
Directly underneath, in a sharp comment on the fate of Princess Diana, arguably at the hands of the media, reads “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the ultimate price”. On the back, underneath the portrait of Charles Darwin, Banksy has included the ominous statement of “Trust No One”.
Monkey Queen © Banksy 2003