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Water Is Life uses stolen art to raise money for a good cause

Nonprofit Water Is Life, which aims to provide clean drinking water to those in need, has released an edgy campaign that explains how stolen art created by street artist and Ted Prize winner JR is now being auctioned off to bidders in order to raise money.

Created by Deutsch and called ‘The Art Heist for Good,’ the agency had a team go into Africa’s “largest, most dangerous slum” in Kibera, Kenya and steal French artist JR’s valuable artwork, which he created more than five years ago and has since then been sitting atop residents’ rooftops while essentially deteriorating under the sun.

The artwork was taken away and corrugated metal roofs were then put in place. The first piece of art was sold in September at Julien’s Auction House in Beverly Hills and a second piece is going up for sale in Paris later this year.

The nonprofit is describing the effort as “a mission to take from the poor to give to the poor.”

President of Water Is Life Kristine Bender said: “Those who live in Kibera are not only unaware of the value of the artwork, they have no way to sell it themselves. So in a way, we’re not doing much more than providing a way for the people of Kibera to help save Kibera. It’s as simple as saving a community with artwork, and providing clean water to those who so desperately need it.”

According to Water Is Life, the heist took two years to plan and the projected value of the artwork collected is $400,000. The proceeds from it will go towards a number efforts in Kibera including a 5,000 gallon per day water filter and a community hand washing station.

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Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is a reporter at The Drum covering creativity and advertising. Based in Philadelphia, she oversees creativity coverage in North & South America and runs The Drum’s weekly “US Creative Works” roundup. During her time at The Drum, she has covered industry events including SXSW, ANA Masters of Marketing, 4A’s Transformation and C2 Montréal and has interviewed dozens of creatives for The Drum’s “What does it take to be a great creative?” video series.

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