Roger Powell, Human Work of Art

In 1995 Roger Powell was 46 years old and living homeless on the streets of London after the failure of his taxi business. And then, by a strange twist of fate, his life changed and he became a work of art.

Film director Tony Kaye had decided to display a homeless person as a work of art at the Saatchi Gallery. So he sent his assistant out to find a homeless person willing to go along with this scheme, and Powell was the one found.

Powell on display at the Saatchi Gallery. Source:

Powell sat in the gallery beside a sign explaining that he was for sale as a "human work of art." The price: £1000.

As far as I know, no one offered to buy Powell. Nevertheless, Kaye continued to display Powell at various museums for the next two-and-a-half years, but most of the time not as an official exhibit. Powell would simply walk around the museums while wearing a t-shirt that said "For Sale, Roger, By Tony Kaye, Four Million Pounds." (The sale price had inflated quite a bit.) In return for doing this, Kaye paid Powell a small weekly allowance and gave him some money towards rent.

San Francisco Examiner - Nov 19, 1995

Eventually Kaye lost touch with Powell. Then, in 2002 Powell died. Kaye paid for Powell's cremation and received his ashes. He said he planned to use them to create a painting that would say "Dead Homeless Man." I don't know if he ever completed this work.

More info:, CSMonitor
     Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 20, 2021
     Category: Art | 1990s

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