Before today, the easiest way to get ripped off in Animal Crossing: New Horizons was to strike up a conversation with Tom Nook. Now, there’s a new monster who will fleece you for all of your bells: the art dealer Jolly Redd.
Redd is one part of New Horizons’ Earth Day update, which started rolling out new events and characters earlier today. In this first wave, Redd joins Lief, a traveling salesman who ended up on your island after getting lost on the way home from the Zootopia set.
Lief’s M.O. is pure and wholesome. He sells you shrubs. He’ll buy your weeds at double market value. Redd, on the other hand, can get lost.
When Redd first shows up, he’ll try to sell you a piece of artwork for a whopping half a million bells. Who does this guy think he is, Larry Gagosian? Declining his offer will drop the price down to just under 5,000 bells. That price cut alone suggests this art isn’t quite on the level.
But Redd doesn’t stop there. Once Redd becomes part of your shopkeeper rotation, he’ll try to sell you genuine art. He’ll also try to sell you “art”—high-quality replicas with vague imperfections that render them financially worthless. But with a keen eye, you can spot the fakes.
Redd arrives in a dusty vessel called the Treasure Trawler. Instead of docking on one of your island’s actual docks, he’ll shore up on the secret north beach, a tiny strip of white sand on a tough-to-reach section of your north shore. (Unless you’ve done some serious terraforming, bring a ladder!) For reference, here’s where to go:
You need to meet a few prerequisites before Redd shows up regularly. First, you need to have Blathers’ museum unlocked. You’ll also need to upgrade it to the point where Blathers, pretentious as ever, wants to add an art wing “to this fine institution’s repertoire.” Since this game doesn’t tell you anything upfront, I don’t yet know for sure how many donations you need to make, but a data mine from this week suggests you need to have handed over 60 fish, fossils, and critters altogether before Blathers develops an interest in art. Redd should start appearing randomly after Blathers mentions art. If he’s on your island on a given day, Isabelle will make note of a certain shady salesman in the morning announcement.
Take the first piece of art you can buy from Redd to Blathers. (Don’t worry. The first one Redd sells you will always be genuine.) Blathers will then kickstart some renovations for the museum. When they’re done, you’ll have a shiny new art wing to fill up and Redd will start appearing more regularly.
You can fill up the new wing with art purchased from Redd. The catch? Blathers will only accept genuine art. He won’t accept any forgeries.
Redd will have four pieces of art for sale whenever the Treasure Trawler shows up. At least one will be genuine, but you can only buy one. It’s a good thing, then, that you have an opportunity to examine each piece before forking over your hard-earned bells.
Many of Redd’s wares are instantly recognizable, world-famous paintings.The tough part is that, in New Horizons, these landmark pieces of human achievement are boiled down to insultingly simple titles: “Moody Painting,” “Mysterious Painting,” “Dynamic Painting.” George Seurat’s idyllic “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” is renamed “Calm Painting.” If you don’t already know the title, this makes it hard to punch it into Google for a quick reference point.
Some art history knowledge will help. But if you, like me, passed your art classes purely on the basis that your teacher didn’t want to risk having you again, you’re not lost. The key is to look for features that might seem strange or straight-up out of place.
For instance, Leonardo da Vinci’s venerable “Vitruvian Man” shows up in the game as “Academic Painting.” Redd’s knockoff will have a coffee stain in the upper-right hand corner, which clearly doesn’t belong there. The “Mona Lisa” (“Famous Painting”) will have raised eyebrows.
Other differences are more subtle, alas. Thomas Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” (“Basic Painting”) has bangs that cover his entire forehead. With paintings like this, I had the best luck typing the artwork’s shortened name plus “Animal Crossing” into Twitter’s search function, which has more often than not pulled up someone who’s either found the real painting or, unfortunately, been had by Redd. Some industrious Twitter and Reddit users have compiled allegedly full lists, but it’s worth noting that you should take these with a grain of salt.
The fakes can’t be donated or sold for money, but they’ll still look good on your wall.