The September Morn Hoax


Chanced upon this interesting hoax. In fact a very good example of “success by scandal”.

But in an ironic twist to the September Morn story, the publicist Harry Reichenbach later claimed to have started the controversy by complaining to moral censors about the indecency of the painting. He didn’t actually feel the painting was indecent. He was cynically manipulating the self-righteous moralists in order to sell copies of the painting. It was an early example of a marketer staging a phony protest for the sake of publicity — aka “success by scandal.”

The story of how Reichenbach made September Morn the most popular painting in the world has been frequently repeated in books, newspapers, and magazines. It’s considered one of the classic tales of clever, though unscrupulous, marketing. But an examination of the chronology of events during the controversy reveals that Reichenbach couldn’t have played the role he claimed. He apparently invented the tale of his stunt in order to embellish his reputation as a master salesman.

The complete article

The Museum of Hoaxes

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