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An Artist Handed Out Mysterious Hand-Drawn Copies Of The Guardian

For reasons we can't quite fathom, someone spent Monday morning standing on London Bridge handing out copies of a hand-drawn version of an edition of the newspaper from four years ago. Update: It was an elaborate art prank!

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This is a print of a faithful hand-drawn recreation of the paper's 23 February 2011 issue, which led with a story on Colonel Gaddafi's bid to quash a popular uprising against him.

When you compare the hand-drawn version to the real version, it's remarkably faithful.

@janemartinson @psmith @BuzzFeedNews It's pretty dang faithful!

cantlin@cantlinFollow

@janemartinson @psmith @BuzzFeedNews It's pretty dang faithful!

5:50 PM - 24 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

On Twitter, people reported being handed the mysterious papers, but had no clue what was going on.

Did anyone else get a hand-drawn copy of what appears to be 22/02/2011 @guardian on London Brdge this am? #whatisthis

Michael Trudeau@miketrudeauFollow

Did anyone else get a hand-drawn copy of what appears to be 22/02/2011 @guardian on London Brdge this am? #whatisthis

2:27 PM - 23 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

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They are turning up on buses too.

@janemartinson @owen_g @psmith @BuzzFeedNews @mediaguardian I picked up a copy on the 141

Tony Paley@tonypaleyFollow

@janemartinson @owen_g @psmith @BuzzFeedNews @mediaguardian I picked up a copy on the 141

5:40 PM - 24 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

One recipient said he was given no explanation from the vendor.

@psmith No, they were handing them out from a stack like you see with the Eve. Standard or CityAM. Didn't say anything, just smiled. Weird!

Michael Trudeau@miketrudeauFollow

@psmith No, they were handing them out from a stack like you see with the Eve. Standard or CityAM. Didn't say anything, just smiled. Weird!

11:25 AM - 24 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

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The biggest question about this remains: Why?

Is this all just a viral stunt to promote something, or an elaborate art prank?

The plot thickens. The Guardian's parent company, Guardian News & Media, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday evening:

"Apologies for the delayed response – just to confirm that neither the production nor the distribution of the hand-drawn copies of The Guardian are something that we've been involved with."

And the answer is...elaborate art prank!

The Guardian reported on Thursday that this was the work of the artist Charlotte Mann.

She said 3,000 copies were distributed with the help of art students in various stations and cafes and whole point was to confuse people, which she succeed in doing.

"People are absolutely baffled as to why I did this, and that’s really exciting, because so much stuff in life exists in that category where you go ‘oh yeah got it, moving on, I understand’," she said.

“If everyone has got something which is incredibly familiar, yet utterly baffling, then they have the chance of having a new thought for themselves."

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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