ArtInfo tracked down Tyler Shields, the photographer who posted images of his girlfriend, Francesca Eastwood, destroying a $100,000 Birkin bag on his website over the weekend. Their project wasn’t exactly embraced by the Facebook and Twitter communities, with Eastwood at the receiving end of death threats — “Obviously you have to assume that any threat could be real, but it’s more just people displaying their anger and emotion on the Internet,” Shields said. But he isn’t having second thoughts about the Birkin-burning.
Asked whether he thought the photo shoot was insensitive to those in financial need, he told the site:
I think if people are [upset] because I spent money on a photo shoot, then they should be upset about every single photo shoot that takes place ever. A $100,000 photo shoot, actually — Paris Hilton spent $200,000 on her album cover. The catering budget for the movie “John Carter” was $5 million. It takes money to make art. People spend money to make their work. If I was operating a McDonald’s, would people be upset because I bought inventory? How many people buy sports cars? How many people buy watches? What if I bought a $100,000 car and I crashed it? I’m not taking anything away from anybody else. That’s the thing, somebody wrote me an email, and she was very upset, and she was like, “How could you do this? You should have given that money to me.”
I was very poor just like six years ago, I had $11 and nobody gave me any money. Nobody just handed me anything. I had to fight for it. I had to work to get what I have. That’s the thing about the country that we live in. You can dream anything you want, and if you’re willing to work hard enough, you can get it.
I support a lot of people. I help a lot of charities. I do a lot of things and when people want to attack me like that, it’s laughable.
In fact, at the end of the interview, editor Ann Binlot suggests that Shields donate the $100,000 that the Birkin bag cost to charity — and Shields bites, saying, “The Birkin photos are for sale. If somebody were to buy — all right, let’s do this. If somebody wants to buy one of the Birkin photos, I will donate $100,000 — not to a charity — but to a family. I will give one family in need $100,000 cash, tax-free.” Tax-free! That sounds like a bargain, unlike an actual Birkin bag.