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One of the world's richest people just got a serious lesson in the 'Streisand effect'

Polly Thompson   

One of the world's richest people just got a serious lesson in the 'Streisand effect'
  • Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart didn't want her portrait hanging in the national gallery.
  • She demanded it be taken down. Instead, the painting has hit global headlines.

Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, did not want people to see her portrait.

So she took the most direct route, demanding that the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra remove two paintings depicting her.

But Rinehart has learned the hard way that by trying to hide something relatively obscure, you can unintentionally draw far more attention to it.

Local media reported that the gallery refused to take down the painting. Rinehart's portrait then made global headlines and sparked a debate over art and censorship.

The painting is part of a satirical series by artist Vincent Namatjira, who is famed for his caricature style.

The series, titled "Australia in Colour," is a satirical look at 21 influential people who have shaped Australia, including Queen Elizabeth II and former Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

With a fortune of $23.6 billion, Rinehart is the richest woman in Australia and the 81st richest person in the world, data from Bloomberg Billionaire's Index shows.

She is the chair of the mining and agricultural business, Hancock Prospecting.

Her father and founder of Hancock Prospecting, Lang Hancock, has drawn controversy for racist comments toward Indigenous Australians.

"Nothing should be sacred from mining whether it's your ground, my ground, the blackfellow's ground or anybody else's. So the question of Aboriginal land rights and things of this nature shouldn't exist," he has been widely quoted as saying.

The gallery "welcomes the public having a dialog" about its displays, it said in a statement shared with Business Insider.

Hancock Prospecting did not immediately reply to a request for comment from BI.

The gallery also shared a statement from the artist, who said that he emphasizes painting wealthy and powerful people who have influenced Australia "whether for bad or for good."

"People don't have to like my paintings, but I hope they take the time to look and think, 'why has this Aboriginal bloke painted these powerful people?'" Namatjira wrote. "'What is he trying to say?'"

"Some people might not like it, other people might find it funny, but I hope people look beneath the surface and see the serious side too."

Reinhart's predicament is a strong example of the phenomenon known as the "Streisand effect."

The term was popularized after Barbra Streisand's attempt in 2003 to suppress the publication of a photo showing her Malibu home by suing the photographer.

She lost the case, had to pay $177,000 in legal fees, and ended up drawing far more attention to the photo than it would have done sitting in the archives of the California Coastal Records project.

Elon Musk was another victim of the Streisand effect when he banned a Twitter account that was tracking the use and carbon emissions of his private jet. That led to more scrutiny of his private jet usage.




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