In the May issue of Car and Driver, the pub peered through the looking glass to see what kind of product enthusiasts can look forward to in the next few years. The feature, entitled "25 Cars Worth Waiting For," combines some astute speculation and a few foregone conclusions with a rendering of each vehicle. However, one particular depiction caught the eye of ace auto artist Jon Sibal.
A rendering of the 2011 BMW M5 commissioned by C/D and created by artist Mark Neeper bore a striking resemblance to an image Sibal says he penned this past December. Considering both artists were working with existing information, the number of similarities – particularly the sculpted front bumper and side sills – could've been mere coincidence. But Sibal delved deeper and came across several disturbingly exact parallels.
In Sibal's own post, he breaks down each of the distinct items he included in his rendering, and while the first few examples could be taken as fluke coincidences, details like the precise lighting glare on the silver side mirrors, a swapped tow hook cover and the highlighting on the side sills were exact duplicates. More telling is Sibal's admission that he made a slight mistake on one side of the intake (not blending it in properly) which mysteriously made it onto Neeper's image. Additionally, Sibal added his own "watermark" – an odd, pinched line on the front bumper – which he claims, "was left in there purposely... to track and identify the parts of the car I've painstakingly designed and created."
To his credit, Sibal isn't out for blood or even monetary compensation; he's just looking for some attribution. And when we spoke with him earlier today, Sibal made it clear that he respects Neeper's work.
Neeper, who has yet to return our emails, is a well-respected artist who's been creating drawings and renderings for various publications for the better part of two decades.
Sibal says he has contacted C/D, but apparently has yet to receive a response. We've spoken with C/D and they're just as flummoxed as Sibal and are taking the matter very seriously as they embark on an investigation.
Check out the examples below for more proof, and get the full details on Sibal's site.
UPDATE: Although C/D's Editor-In-Chief Eddie Alterman wasn't willing to go on the record, he's extended his apologies to Sibal and intends to run the artist's letter in an upcoming issue. More importantly, Mark Neeper has publicly apologized to Sibal and you can read his explanation below:
Dear Mr. Sibal,
I am deeply sorry and embarrassed.
I had found or already had various M-Kits that were chopped out or semi-chopped out of their backgrounds, not properly comprehending where they sourced from - even factory photo "kits" of M edition vehicles, which in retrospect, I should have used. I am so embarrassed and hope you will accept my sincere apology for this error.
Your work is fantastic, and I hope we can be friends in the future, and thank you for your kind words in the midst of this mishap.