Counterfeiting is a serious crime, but in 2004, renowned artist Banksy created ‘Di-Faced Tenner’, counterfeit £10 notes featuring Princess Diana‘s head and “Banksy of England” instead of “Bank of England”. The design of the notes contains hidden messages of criticism towards the royal family and the media’s treatment of Princess Diana.
The traditional British £10 note was ‘defaced’ by Banksy’ under POW Defaced Currency, now titled ‘Di-faced Tenner. His £10 note replaced Queen Elizabeth II’s face with Princess Diana as the new figure of authority and admiration. Banksy also made some subtle alterations, including adding the statement “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the ultimate price” as a sharp comment on the fate of Princess Diana. On the back, underneath the portrait of Charles Darwin, Banksy has included the ominous statement “Trust No One.”
Banksy released the first Di-Faced Tenners in 2004 by opening his filled suitcase, which he dropped into crowds at the Notting Hill Carnival, Reading Festival, and Liverpool Street tube station during rush hour. Some individuals even attempted to use them as legal tender at local establishments.
Later that year, a second ‘suitcase’ release was put together for Banksy’s Santa’s Ghetto exhibition at Lazarides Gallery, along with a limited-edition series of screenprints featuring five notes. There are just 50 signed and 32 artist’s proofs of these screenprints.
Banksy created £1 million worth of notes for his 2004 stunts, resulting in circulation of approximately 100,000 Di-Faced Tenner notes. Despite the sheer quantity of fake currency Banksy entered into circulation during the stunts, he has never been prosecuted with counterfeiting charges.
Notably, reproducing banknote images is a criminal offence under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981. The Bank of England holds the copyright over all its banknotes, and unauthorised use or reproduction of these images can result in legal consequences. The American Numismatic Society was made aware of this when they received an email from a Reproductions Officer at the Bank of England cautioning against publishing photos of the banknotes on their website without prior permission.
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