Two artists burn one million British pounds. This took place back in 1994 and without any apparent reason. Their names are Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty and were the founders of the KLF band which was playing British acid house in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Back in 1994 however, more as a side project than anything else, they decided to put to the torch one million pounds sterling. This is equivalent to $1,544,000 or 1,363,800 euros, not taking into account more than 20 years worth of inflation.
In an interview they present their motives for doing this and how it was done. After being able to put together this large amount of money -which they didn’t have, but earned through their music- they decided to put it to burn it. The reasons behind it are still unclear. Like Bill Drummond said: “There were a lot of reasons why and are still a lot we’re discovering every day”.
They didn’t have a particular reason in mind for burning all of that money and they certainly didn’t do it for publicity.
They took the cash in duffel bags on a small charter plane and burned it in a disused boathouse on the Ardfin Estate on the Scottish island of Jura, away from prying eyes and thousands of questions.
Even if they weren’t rich in any way and could do well with that much money in their pockets, they still decided to incinerate it. They even thought about the uncertainties of the future, the well-being of their children, but still the urge to destroy that money was greater.
Inevitably they were confronted with a lot of criticism from the public, once they got wind of what happened. People were appalled of the loss of such great value, but both Bill and Jimmy Cauty said: “There is nothing lost to the world, other than a pile of paper“, meaning that they in fact hadn’t destroyed anything of value like food or resources, but just some mere tokens.
They also said that: “We are not a charitable organization” when asked why they haven’t given the money to someone who was in need. They also compared themselves to people who, in their vanity, would had spent that money on trivial things like swimming pools and huge TV’s. The only reason that people were mad at them and not on the big spenders, was that they literally burnt the money and not just burn through it.
Now, one reason they haven’t probably thought about when they were throwing the bills in the furnace is that, even if insignificant, that one million quid that was lost in the flames actually have risen the value of all remaining currency in the world. In short, even if not charitable, the KLF have actually made the rest of us a fraction richer by burning their own money to a crisp.
Below you have the interview where you can listen to the guys describing their actions with their own words.