A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter (2009)

A piece of art that sells itself on ebay every 7 days.

Title: A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter
Year: 2009
Artist: Caleb Larsen
Dimensions: 8″x8″x8″
Medium: Acrylic, custom electronics, programming, internet connection, online auction.
Description: This object perpetually attempts to sell itself on eBay.

view the lot here (You have to read the terms and conditions after the jump)

(Thanks Jared!)

This purchase agreement was drafted with the aid of Marsha G. Ajhar of Hartman & Craven LLP, NYC.


THIS AGREEMENT is by and between Caleb Larsen, a U.S. citizen (hereinafter “Artist’) and the “Collector”, the purchaser, below identified, of an artistic work titled “A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter (2009)” by Artist, effective as of the date of execution by Collector, and thereafter by and between the current Collector and any and all subsequent new purchasers of the Artwork, also as identified below, also effective as of the date of their/its execution of this Agreement.


A. Artist has created a work of art titled “A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter (2009)” (“the Artwork”) which consists of a black box that places itself for sale on the auction website “eBay” (the “Auction Venue”) every seven (7) days. The Artwork consists of the combination of the black box or cube, the electronics contained therein, and the concept that such a physical object “sells itself” every week.

B. Collector understands and agrees to the underlying concept and function of the Artwork and that the sale of the Artwork by Artist is dependent and conditioned upon Purchaser’s agreement and adherence to the below terms. Such terms are fundamental and crucial to the on-going viability and artistic integrity of the Artwork.

WHEREFORE, for good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, it is hereby agreed as follows:

1. Collector agrees that the Artwork will remain connected to a live Internet connection at all times, with disconnections allowed only for the transportation of the work from one venue to another.
2. Upon purchasing the Artwork, Collector may establish a new value for the Artwork. The new value may not exceed current market expectations for the Artwork based on the current value of work by the Artist. This value may be reassessed quarterly. This value will be set as the minimum bid of the auction. Any bid meeting or exceeding this amount will result in a legitimate sale via the Auction Venue and the Policies of the Auction Venue must be followed regarding this matter.
3. Collector must disclose the terms of this Agreement to persons bidding on the Artwork. Any successful bidder must agree to be bound by the terms of this Agreement before title to the Artwork is transferred to such bidder who shall then become the new and next Collector (the “New Collector”). These requirements and terms shall apply equally to Collector and any and all New Collectors.
4. Collector is responsible for any and all fees and charges generated by the Artwork on the Auction Venue.
5. In the event of a sale of the Artwork via the Auction Venue, Collector is required to sell the Artwork to the highest bidder. The Artwork must be properly packaged and promptly shipped to the New Collector. Prior to receipt of the Artwork, and as a prior condition to the sale and transfer of the Artwork, New Collector is required to execute this Agreement which shall evidence the agreement between Collector and New Collector to be bound by these terms.
6. The Auction Venue’s Terms of Service must be followed at all times and any failure to follow the Auction Venue’s Terms may result in additional penalty including the suspension of the Collector’s Auction Venue account by the Auction Venue.
7. The software driving the project will remain hosted on servers of the Artist’s choosing to aid in maintenance. Artist will supply a copy of the software upon request by either the Collector or any New Collector.
8. The Artwork will only be sold via Auction Venue established by the Artist. Any sale outside of this structure voids the status of the work as an Artwork. Any commission by a gallery or agent may be figured into the value of the work.
9. The Auction Venue may change at any time at the discretion of the Artist. The Collector will be notified of any changes via registered mail.
10. In the event of a sale the Collector agrees to pay a sum equal to fifteen percent (15%) of the Appreciated Value (as hereinafter defined), if any, occasioned by such transfer or distribution or payment of insurance proceeds to the Artist (or Artist’s agent for the purpose) within thirty days of the sale.
11. “Appreciated Value” of the Work for the purposes of this Agreement, shall be the increase, if any, in the value or price of the Work over the price for which the Collector had purchased the Artwork.
12. Any failure to follow these terms without prior consent of Artist will forfeit the status of the Artwork as a legitimate work of art. The item will no longer be considered a genuine work by the Artist and any value associated with it will be reduced to its value as a material object and not a work of art.
13. This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New York.
14. If any provision of this Agreement or the application of any provision to any person or to any circumstance is determined to be invalid or unenforceable, then such determination shall not affect any other provision of this Agreement or the application of such provision to any other person or circumstance, all of which other provisions shall remain in full force and effect. The parties intend that if any provision of this Agreement is susceptible to two or more constructions, one of which would render the provision enforceable and the other or others of which would render the provision unenforceable, then the provision shall be given the meaning that renders it enforceable.
15. No waiver by any party of any covenant or condition or the breach of any covenant of this Agreement to be kept or performed by the other party shall be construed as a waiver by the waiving party of any subsequent breach of such covenant or condition or authorize the breach or nonobservance on any other occasion of the same or any other covenant or condition of this Agreement.
16. This agreement may be executed in two copies, each of which is deemed an original. Electronically transmitted and/fax signatures shall be treated as original signatures.
17. This Agreement is intended to benefit and be binding upon Artist, Collector, and all those acting in concert or participation with them or under their direction or control, as well as their successors, heirs and assigns.
18. This Agreement is the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof, and supersedes all prior agreements and understandings, written or oral, with respect to such subject matter. This Agreement cannot be amended except in a written instrument executed by all parties.

Questions and answers about this item

Q: Hi, Will you ship internationally (to the UK)? Neil
A: Certainly. We would have to determine the actual shipping costs. and there would be a bit of software reconfiguring, but that would be no problem.

Q: Doesn’t the first sale doctrine prevent you from collecting further payment past the initial sale of the item?
A: In order to be recognized as a work of art the contract must be adhered to, and regards of who owns it and who buys it the contract remains between the artist and the purchaser, not between buyer and seller.

Q: What means does it use to connect to the Internet ? Wireless or other ?
A: It specifically connect via wired ethernet, and it automatically obtains is IP through DHCP.

Q: If I were to buy this, how long could I expect to own it before it sells itself again?
A: It is hard to say. Like any commodity it is subject to demand. It could be moments or years. The perpetual state of uncertainty and the instability of ownership are primary components of the work.

Q: How would you handle the contingencies of ebay shutting down/going under? It seems difficult to maintain the “perpetual” state of auction for more than a few millenia.
A: The contract and the piece were designed to be platform agnostic to accommodate for this. If eBay dries up and disappears, then another platform, either propriety or public, can be used for the selling.

4 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Johnny

    wtf, just got a trojan virus from this page… bunk.

  2. the enablist

    no clue how that happened

  3. Mike

    It would be nice to see the history of Starting and Winning bids somewhere.

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