Di Faced Tenners Banksy
Banksy’s early work, Di Face Tenners was released in 2004. It represents a sheet of five counterfeit £10 notes, printed on both sides, released in an edition of just 50. The works relatively low edition size contributes to its high demand from collectors. Another rare edition of 32 was also released as an Artist Proof edition.
‘Di Faced’ is a pun on the word ‘defaced’ parodying the £10 note by replacing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with that of the late Princess Diana. The piece plays with what the media made a killing on for decades – the estrangement of Diana to the royal family, and her critique of the British royal institution. 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 Diana, and the loss of a mother to the two young princes.
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 involving 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. Di Faced Tenner is a commentary on the value of money and the value people place on it. The project quickly became one of his most notorious art projects ever undertaken. 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.
In March 2014, some notes were donated to the Cube Cinema in Bristol, raising £11,000 at auction. 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. Di Faced Tenner has joined the museum’s collection of coins, medals and paper money.