Internet Mugshots: Valuable Works of Art?

People who take mugshots can’t really be considered professional photographers. They don’t play with lighting, work with perspective or try to bring out the inner characteristics of the people who pose for them. In fact, they may not spend more than 5 minutes or so on their photographs, and they likely don’t own the cameras they use. Even so, the work of these amateur photographers is pulling down some big bucks in auctions held all around the world, and it could have an important impact on a person’s sense of privacy and reputation.

In the past, antique mugshots of people accused of very famous crimes have been worth a significant amount of money in an auction. The mugshot of the man who stole the famous “Mona Lisa” painting from the Louvre Museum in 1907, sold at auction for almost twice what experts had estimated it would sell for, reporters say, and the shot is now housed in some private collection, no doubt rising in value all the time.

Even modern mugshots of famous people can be considered collector’s items, and they can be worth a great deal of money. For example, a mugshot of the singer David Bowie sold at auction for thousands in 2007, after it had sat moldering in the house of a retired cop for decades. Reproductions of OJ Simpson’s mugshot are even now being sold online for about $45, although at the time of this writing, there were no bids on this particular item. But a new trend could see standard people become art-house sensations, all because they’ve been arrested.


According to the New York Times, a pair of artists found mugshots in an antique store, and they began to tweak them and amend them, and then use these images in posters, notebooks and prints. The pair is even thinking of expanding into tote bags. It’s likely that this activity is legal, since the mugshots were taken as part of a governmental agency’s work, and there are no privacy clauses at the moment that could protect the people who appear in these images. But is it ethical?

It’s easy to argue that famous people expect to be objects of fascination, and as a result, they might expect to see their mugshots become collector’s items. They might even expect to see the images become art-house pieces.

But do average people who are accused of a crime expect to see their arrests become part of someone’s wardrobe? Don’t their family members and friends deserve a little protection from seeing someone they love plastered all over someone’s room or someone’s body?

We think so. That’s why we’ve developed a series of proprietary solutions that can remove mugshots in mere minutes, and we can even seek out copies of those photos that are appearing in other places and remove them as well. We’ve helped hundreds of clients clean up their reputations online, and we’ve kept other people from making money on very private misery.  Companies like offer mugshot removal plans starting at $399, other companies like offer reputation management campaigns to help burry mugshot records in the search results.  Options remain available for people who have online mugshot records.

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