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Pranksters JAILED for Botched Fake Art Heist

On paper, it sounded like a good idea.
Screencaps by the author

The thing about modern reality in Western civilization, where danger is rare and the days heavily predictable, is that people enter and rarely leave a collective hallucination. So when they're suddenly ripped from it, it can be incredibly enlivening—well, for some.

Witness the work of pranksters Trollstation, who on a single day in July of 2015 staged a fake robbery at London's National Portrait Gallery and a bogus kidnapping at the Tate Britain. In both stagings, people panicked and ran for the door, while one woman even fainted, as Trollstation’s fifth member filmed the other four engaged in the hijinks. A UK judge in the City of London Magistrate's Court didn’t find the group’s actions as funny, sentencing Daniel Jarvis, 27, Helder Gomes, 23, Endrit Ferizolli, 20, and Ebenezer Mensah, 29, to several months in jail each.


The BBC reports that all four plead guilty to two counts of using threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behavior with intent to cause fear of, or provoke unlawful violence, for their involvement in the two hoaxes. The charge at the National Portrait Gallery resulted in 20 weeks for Jarvis, 18 weeks each for Mensah and Gomes, and 16 for Ferizolli. The four also got eight weeks for the staged kidnapping at the Tate Britain, which will run concurrently.

No doubt the judge wanted to send a message to Trollstation and all other would-be art pranksters, but it seems a bit of a legal stretch to jail individuals for such satire. As Trollstation makes plain on their website, they are a “collective of social misfits playing mad mind games on the public” with the intention of being provocative and controversial.

If anything, jailtime will probably just embolden the group, or inspire them to find new ways to flaunt the law with their next series of collective hallucination-busting pranks. Judging by the dozens of videos of pranks filmed since the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Britain exploits, this is the likely scenario.

Click here to see more pranks by Trollstation.


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