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Gina Rinehart wanted her portrait gone, but now it may light up Times Square

Dan Ilic is fundraising to display the portrait of Gina Rinehart in Times Square for 10 minutes.

Dan Ilic is fundraising to display the portrait of Gina Rinehart in Times Square for 10 minutes. Photo: Dan Ilic

Mining mogul Gina Rinehart’s quest to remove a portrait of herself from the National Gallery has ensured millions more have seen the Vincent Namatjira painting, but it may now light up one of the world’s most famous landmarks.

Rinehart called to have the artwork removed from Namatjira’s exhibition, resulting in it appearing across the news, social media and even Stephen Colbert’s late-night show.

But now comedian Dan Ilic is fundraising to display the portrait on a billboard in New York’s Times Square.

Ilic told The New Daily that it is important to celebrate Australia’s art and artists, because “not many other people are”.

“The person who was seeking for it to be removed has a unique place in Australian culture and politics, and uses their power for things that are very much in line with their interests,” he said.

“Us, using our own power as a community to try and leverage a lot of little people’s contributions to this celebration of great Australian art, is a great thing.”

Namatjira’s portrait of Rinehart is one of 21 hanging that comprise the Australia in Colour artwork, which was featured in his exhibition that opened at the National Gallery in Canberra in March.

Ilic said people approached him to launch the fundraising campaign because “I’ve become the person to do such things”.

“I happened to go to an art event on the weekend with some people who know Vincent well and I asked them to check if he would like it,” he said.

“He said it’s very funny, so we went ahead with it.”

Ilic stressed that Namatjira was not involved in the fundraising effort.

Lighting up Times Square

Ilic previously used Times Square’s billboards in a campaign to highlight Australia’s lack of climate action before COP26 in2021.

He said in many respects, it is different from the climate message.

“The climate message was shaming Australia’s lack of action on climate change,” he said.

“This is a real celebration of Australian art.”

That 10-minute slot cost $16,000, but Ilic is fundraising $30,000 to beam Rinehart’s portrait into one of the busiest locations on the planet, with any excess money being donated to Indigenous-led youth climate network Seed Mob.

He said Seed Mob is an incredible organisation.

“It’s very much in line with our values on the Rational Fear podcast and the work we’ve done previously,” Ilic said.

“By the very nature of that organisation, they’re at odds with a lot of what big corporations like Hancock Prospecting are all about.”

Streisand effect

The Australian swimming team, which is sponsored by Rinehart, was also involved in efforts to have the portrait removed.

If Rinehart hadn’t demanded its removal, it is highly likely that most Australians – and millions overseas — would never have seen the unflattering portrait.

Ilic said he was bullish about passing the $30,000 goal and making the 10-minute slot a reality.

“There is an old maxim in crowdfunding: If you reach 50 per cent within the 50 per cent mark of time, you’ll get the rest,” he said.

“We hit that earlier this morning and it’s about halfway now, so I think we’ll get the rest.”

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