This is Where Directors and Rappers Get All Their Fake Cash
All of the fake money you see passed around in crime dramas and rap videos pretty much all comes from one guy—Rich ‘RJ’ Rappaport. He’s Rappaport is the man behind RJR Props, the Atlanta-based movie props business that makes some of the best fake-money around. If you’ve seen “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Netflix’s “Ozark” or even a Kendrick Lamar music video, then you’re already familiar with his work.
Here’s how Rappaport’s company makes fake money.
“We start from scratch. We start with blank paper,” Rappaport told CNN. “We get a paper that looks incredible. Some of our paper has a color change as you move across: pink-yellow-pink or green-yellow-green. We’re the only company in the world that does this because it’s very expensive, but we want our money to look right.”
To do that, RJR makes two different kinds of prop money: standard grade and high grade.
“Our standard grade prop money is printed on both sides, but has an optical illusion built into it. It looks realistic at an arm’s length, but when you start bringing it closer, it actually changes over and it reveals itself as fake. We also have a high grade type, better known as close up money. That’s the one you use for a close-up scene, or if somebody is counting money and putting it in someone else’s hands. That looks fantastic. But since it looks so real, we can print it on one side only.”
Failing to do that can get Rappaport and other fake-money makers in legal trouble.
“Most other companies that make prop money are actually producing illegal prop money, and that can get a show shut down and someone fined and jailed,” he explained.
To avoid that, Rappaport regularly meets with Secret Service officials to make sure he is complying with regulations.
But even though the money is fake, that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. A stack of $100 bills costs $45 for standard grade and $65 for high grade. Money that looks like it’s passed hands more than a fe times costs another $20.
“[Distressed money is] very difficult to make, harder than people would imagine,” said Rappaport. “It’s made by hand. Every bill is wrinkled, creased, stained, cigarette-burned. Everything that you might find on money in circulation, that’s what we do to it. It’s a difficult process, usually requiring 15 or 20 people sitting around a table.”
Rappaport may be most well know for his fake money, but his business also stocks a number of other props including fake drugs, rockets and massive server rooms. Most of the times props are rented, but the fake money is almost always bought outright. Sometimes it’s even flaunted as the real thing by rappers on Instagram.
However, not all musicians use fake money in their videos.
“Yes, actually there are a number of artists who use real money,” Rappaport revealed. “But I can’t say who uses real money and who uses fake money because it would be a security risk.”
Perhaps eagle-eyed viewers can pick out who’s just fronting next time you’re favorite up and coming rapper is flashing their cash on IG. But if they turn up with the stuff made by Rappaport, chances are you’ll never know the difference.