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Diners Swipe, Sell Murakami Matts

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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PLACE YOUR BID Murakami mat

High-low arts hero Takashi Murakami's current exhibit at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art (with its ad hoc Louis Vuitton boutique) has sparked a heated debate over mass commerce's place in the world of fine art. But one thing everybody can agree on is what to do with free Murakami swag (hint: eBay!).

When attendees arrived at MoCA's gala launch event last week, they were pleasantly surprised to find that each place setting at dinner, which set them back between $1,000 and 10,000 each, included a special-edition fiberglass mat adorned with the artist's trademark grinning flower design. It didn't take long for the tony guests to do the math though, turning the swank affair into a free-for-all. Enterprising diners went around snatching up plates from empty tables, and guests who made the mistake of going to the bathroom returned to find themselves empty handed. Those who did wisely guard their plates shamelessly saddled up to Murakami for a value increasing signature. Of course, it only took a few days before the first plate showed up on eBay, with a starting bid of $999.99. At least it beats a plate from the Bradford Exchange.

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UPDATE: Could art N.E.R.D. Pharrell Williams be the man behind the eBaying of Murakami place mats?



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