Gupta middlefinger artist says he'll donate any crowdfunding money

Cape Town – James Gubb, the creator of the Gupta “share price artwork”, undertook to donate any money that comes his way as part of a crowdfunding initiative to “the likes of” the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and investigative journalism outfit amaBhungane.  

The artwork came about through Gubb’s trading in Oakbay on March 31, resulting in an intraday image that depicted the outline of a clenched fist and a raised middle finger.

Gubb, an investor, said his trading activity that resulted in the image was to convey his contempt and outrage at people such as the Gupta family and their associated company Oakbay.

The Financial Services Board imposed a fine of R100 000 on Gubb for contravening the Financial Markets Act and creating a "false and deceptive appearance" of trading activity when he traded shares in Gupta-owned Oakbay between two of his accounts.

Subsequently, two South Africans, Linzy Mothusi and Gareth Moll, started a crowdfunding drive on Thundafund to collect money to pay Gubb’s fine.

READ: Crowdfund launched to pay Gupta 'middlefinger art' fine 

Speaking to Fin24 by email, Gubb said he feels honoured, thankful and humbled by the attention given by the crowdfunders. 

“I have yet to talk to or meet the originators of this drive [but] if any money does come my way, I will donate it all to the likes of OUTA and AmaBhungane.  I will not be seen to be profiteering from this initiative, even though it was not of my own making.”

Gubb admitted feeling “a little overwhelmed” by the public reaction to his “artwork”.

“I think my efforts at protesting in this form resonates with the public on many levels.  Firstly, it is a protest against state capture.  It has overtones of the small man standing up and fighting in whatever way he or she can to fight this scourge of endemic corruption.

“It has motivated many people to think what they themselves can do to join this fight. Secondly, it created, as far as I can ascertain, the first instance of representational art produced in the medium of stock prices.

“Protest art, conceptual art, call it what you want, but it appealed to the moral indignation of the public, and created awareness of our plight that has now gone global. The subtexts of my message or image has stimulated conversation and emotional reaction on multiple levels,” Gubb said.

READ: Trader fined over 'Gupta middlefinger' art

He added that despite authorities “slapping massive fines on artists who try and create messages on a financial platform” this form of art will not die out. 

“They (the authorities) miss the point. If a stock is illiquid enough to allow such activity, then it should be encouraged, because it adds to the liquidity of the stock. 

"If a trader wishes to trade a stock for some purposes other than investment, let them do so, because it provides the opportunity for someone else to profit from that mispricing,” Gubb added. 

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