The Strange and Startling Saga of Suryanto sur

Crypto Art Oct 01, 2020

This is the strange story of an artist who was caught selling art that they were apporpriating from other artists without credit as their own art on one platform, but who was also invited to make what the art community was assured is actually their own art on yet another.

Is this person really making any of their own art? Are they simply taking other artists work and minting it as crypto art? Is this some other situation unfolding where this person is simply the patsy?

What exactly is going on here?

Dive in and read on to understand how this person took the work of others, solid it as their own art, profited from it, was caught out by members of the crypto art community, and then banished for good. Right?

Well, not exactly...

Suryanto sur. "Second chance," 2020 (SuperRare)

Let the art tell it...

This work, and many others like it come off as a sort of basic art student mocking Basquiat without any real effort to exhibit their own voice at all. This piece looks like a hot fraud just sitting there by itself. Most people with enough art education would presume this to be a cheap Basquiat knock-off at first glance, but nothing more. It literally conveys zero extra meaning to anyone outside the meme-ridden crypto space the subject matter is about and as a result, is not exciting as original art.

Those memes tho. That esoteric knowledge– it tells the story of a "rotten" "HUMAN", certainly no angel, but who strongly needs a second chance, and S-R (such glib product placement, no?) is going to give them that second chance. Throw in a little "trap house" reference to represent the infmaously strong Indonesian trap scene (or does it refer to another house as we'll later learn?), et voila!

It is as if the person who made this did not even have to try.

It is a Basqfauxiat.

DISCOVERY

Sascha Bailey of the Blockchain Art Exchange gallery tweets with a keen eye...

He points out that the work sur is titling "Highly Implausible" (besides having the absolute most fitting title ever, given its alleged provenance) is "100% not their creation."

The Museum of Crypto Art lists another unfairly appropriated work, which sur sold as "Beauty killer v.2".

Artist and community member @MMakaviti makes most of the discoveries and painstakingly catalogs 32 questionable works of art by Suryanto sur in their tweets.

Another example of art lifted from someone else by Suryanto sur and just straight up sold on Rarible as their own work.

HOW MUCH WAS INVOLVED HERE?

Let us take a look at the Ethereum transactions occurring in wallet address 0xa7b3f922e1e2ad432a424c0fe887db9b4f1350ea and the sales history from Rarible to gain some idea of the financial incentve that this particular form of cultural and language barrier is capable of generating.

Rarible Creation and Sales History

First, let's explore a bit of the creation and sales history from Rarible.

This person has minted approximately 379 NFT artworks in a staggering variety of styles from fractals, to pixel art, to the popular Basqfauxiats on Rarible since 2020, February 3.

At the time of this writing, all of these works were still available on their Rarible created page. Sales are not easily historically ascertained on Rarible, as they go back only 30 days. Information is also quite sparse for this artist on OpenSea as well. It is as though a minor coverup has been put into play around this artist and their dealings with the community.

Associated ETH and Token Transfers

Let's now take a brief look at some of the ETH transfers in and out of the wallet associated with sur.

Of note here are the outliers (~3 ETH or more) in the above graph as well as Rarible sales on that date.

Date ETH in ETH out
2020 July 19 13.3 15
2020 July 20 1.75 0
2020 July 21 8.3 8.8
2020 July 30 0.15 5.4
2020 Aug 10 3.3 3.5
2020 Aug 16 1.99 3.3.
2020 Sep 06 0.3 3.5
2020 Sep 14 4.9 5.3
2020 Sep 17 4.7 6

In total there is at least 50 ETH sent out of this wallet address over the span of 3 months.

HELLO, $RARI

The wallet receives 3319.3232 RARI tokens on 2020, July 18. There are numerous other transactions and drops of RARI to and from this wallet. Note that at a RARI ATH of approximately 0.028 ETH/RARI, that's almost 93 ETH in a scenario presuming sur held and sold all of their RARI at an ATH level (this is only a hypothetical scenario for value illustration and has not been confirmed to be the case). 93 ETH in USD for those who care to compare would have equate to about $34,000. Reminder, this is only the RARI token, and does not count the ETH in and out of the wallet, presumably from the sale of artworks.

Genesis Work on Rarible

This is the earliest minted work by sur on Rarible. Titled "Dizzy Pattern #2", it was minted on 2020, February 3.

We note this piece historically here to invite others to establish provenance considerting that even this very first piece could likely be the work of another artist.

ATTEMPTED REPARATIONS

Suryanto sur both admitted to selling the stolen art and has repeatedly expressed their remorse for doing so. They are attempting to buy back the pieces in question and burn them to save their reputation, but most think that it's too late and question whether anything this person creates is authentic.

You can observe their Rarible activity and clearly note their "Birth of" events, sales, transfers, and  "Death of" events on the OpenSea Suryanto sur activity page.

Burn the Fake Art Campaign

As part of sur's reparations, they are burning the offending artwork by either buying it back from the collector or receiving it back gratis and then burning. Here is a small collection of cheap knock-offs originally collected by Coldie. We can't help but to imagine that he was playing it safe, as these were inexpensive works.

Totally radical art acquired by Coldie that someone made — that someone is just not Suryanto sur...

"Shot and chaser" – a Performance Artwork in Two Parts...

Current Status?

The SuperRare account for Suryanto sur is still active as of 23 September, 2020. It is not clear whether the artist will remain in good standing on that platform, and we invite a representative from SuperRare to make a statement on this situation.

Here we can observe a translation by @MMakaviti of sur trying to apologize to the artist Hexosis for using their work without permission.

...and the actual tweet in question, written in Malay which is presumably sur's native language.

Suryanto sur apologizing to Hexeosis in their native dialect.

All of this has prompted a massive Twitter thread, but here is some of what Hexosis had to say to Mario Klingemann specifically on the subject of his art being appropriated by sur without his permission.

So what are we as a community to make of this kind of behavior and what will we do about it? The person clearly ripped off art and resold it. That is fraud and really equivalent to theft when done so brazenly and greedily as can be seen in this example.

I Bought a House as Well!

One thing that strikes us as as deeply familiar in this story of Suryanto sur, is that its climax at the middle of September 2020 closely parallels that of a more reputable crypto artist in a considerably interesting detail.

Take for example, the story of Twisted Vacancy. He is an artist in the scene for about a year now, who did so well on the Nift Gateway platform that he was able to buy a new home from his sales on that platform. There was much excitement about this well deserved milestone in that artist's career.

Well, wouldn't you know it... Suryanto sur also bought a house with his crypto art proceeds from Rarible sales– presumably including all the art they sold that was not theirs to sell in the first place.

Woohoo! We are certainly all about artists making it in the world.

It's just that he narrative here seems a bit too coincidentally comparative to the same messaging that another artist altogether on a competing platform just got done broadcasting.

The two different announcements by two different artists were also literally made just a couple days apart.

Maybe all of this is just one big coincidence, though? 🤔

CLARIFICATION: The two artists obviously live in different countries and different houses. The curious element here is that they both bought homes in the same week from their art sales, not that the home in question for both is the same home. Shout out to Sascha Bailey of Blockchain Art Exchange for bringing up the point of potential confusion.


We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative; if so, make sure to share this with a friend and donate to Alpacawhal.

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