Tag Archives: Banksy

Oscar’s Nod Elevates Banksy’s Prices

Graffiti artist Banksy’s plan to attend the Oscar ceremony in disguise was vetoed by the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  But that hasn’t stopped the additional hundreds of thousands of dollars which have been added to the value of his work.

The Bristol-born graffitist, whose real name is thought to be Robin Gunningham, has been on a publicity drive since he was nominated for Best Documentary Feature for his film Exit Through the Gift Shop. If you haven’t seen this doc, I highly recommend adding it to your Netflix queue. The movie delved into the often overlooked art of graffiti and the artists who promote themselves in guerrilla fashion. It’s also quite humorous.

Graffiti artworks appeared across Los Angeles, leading up to the Oscars. They included a boy with a machine gun firing crayons into a field of flowers, a drunk Mickey Mouse holding a cocktail and wrapping his arm around a model on a billboard on Sunset Boulevard, and  Charlie Brown with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.

The works impressed the Los Angeles Times, which opined that he was a welcome addition to the usual Oscar buzz. “If Academy officials are worried that Banksy might do something bizarre on Oscar night, our advice is not only to get over that but to invite him back next year as a presenter,” the newspaper declared.

In the month since the nominations were announced, Banksy’s art has already shown signs of a price bump. Analysis provided by the art-price monitor, artnet, of the ten most recent sales of Banksy works shows that prices were on average 25 per cent higher than the highest estimate put on the work by auction houses.

Sotheby’s in London sold Banksy’s “Heavy Weaponry,” an image of an elephant with a rocket on its back, for $123,375. The auction record for any of his works is a much larger piece entitled “Keep it Spotless,” a Damien Hirst spot painting defaced with the image of a chamber maid apparently lifting up the bottom of the canvas, which sold for dollars $ 1.87 million at Sotheby’s New York in February 2008.

The artist had his first brush with Hollywood in 2006 when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie expressed an interest in his work, but art experts believe that the Oscar coverage combined with canny control of the supply of his work will cause prices to rise again. There is a catch, however, for owners of Banksy works. They are worth little without a certificate of authenticity, but Pest Control, which describes itself as the “handling agency” for Banksy’s work, has refused to give certificates for works that it says were “not originally intended for resale,”  including street art and gifts.

Read more from the story, courtesy of the Australian Times.

More Banksy Controversy, this time in Detroit

The British graffiti artist Banksy has done it again… A decaying Packard Plant in Detroit was his canvas this May. But it seems the 1,500 pound painting was removed and exhibited at a local gallery, leading the plant owners to sue. Some sources I’ve seen tell me that the 555 Gallery removed the piece so as to preserve it, while others say they are guilty of theft.

Bioresource Inc.  filed suit this week in Wayne County Circuit Court to regain possession of the mural by the internationally known British graffiti artist. The painting (a boy with a can of red paint and the words “I remember when all this was trees” affixed to an 8-foot tall cinder block wall) was removed by artists of a nonprofit gallery, where it remains on display in southwest Detroit.

The suit says the mural may be worth $100,000 or more. Stars such as Angelina Jolie have spent more than that on Banksy works. But appraising Banksy graffiti is complicated due to issues of authenticity and the artist’s habit of disavowing works that have been moved from their original setting. Finding a collector willing to buy it or a museum that would accept it as a gift is problematic. Read more about the new graffiti in Detroit in this Metro Times story.

The Egytian Theater here in Park City has had similar troubles. It is assumed that Banksy also tagged our local Main Street Theater and the work of art (a rat wearing 3-d glasses, on a door) was removed and is in storage. How the theater will go about marketing and selling the piece is a controversial issue. Should it remain as is, here in town? Or should a struggling theater program try to reap some monetary rewards from the random tagging? Who does the art belong to, and when does it leave the realm of inspiration and become annoyance?

A slew of graffiti appeared here in town to coincide with the premier of the documentary movie “Exit through the Giftshop,” featuring Banksy (although not revealing his identity).  Read more on our previous blog, here. One piece, on the Java Cow building (seen above) has been covered with ply board, after additional graffiti “artists” decided to leave their own tags.

Park City Municipal removed one of the tags, on a historic building, and it is not known whether they knew the artist and his work or not.

Taggin the Town–Banksy in Park City


The Sundance Film Festival is about to get underway (tomorrow is the opening day) and we already are feeling the excitement! Rental trucks are moving out shops as Sundance moves in. Gallery MAR is featuring the works of Ron Galella, whose life work is documented in the new film “Smash His Camera,” premiering at Sundance.


Another Art Film is causing a stir on our streets. Apparently four new alleged Banksy (arguably the most well-known graffiti artist in the world) stencils/grafitti pieces have popped up in our  mountain town. Adding to the intrigue are the rumors that the “Spotlight Surprise” documentary film will actually be about the British artist and entitled “Exit Through The Gift Shop,” the title of a piece from his recent Bristol Museum exhibition.

Will this film be another hoax or joke on the audience? The possibilities are endless for the reveal at this film. The Festival Director, John Cooper, describes the documentary by saying, “Surprise is a good thing. Take a chance on this one. I confess, it’s one of my favorites this year.”

Enjoy the “art” around town. I’m sure the city’s code enforcers are going to have a field day with this new work!

Guerrilla Artists in the News

An Atlanta-based “guerrilla artist” is facing charges for creating a hitch-hiking “monster” out of orange traffic barrels, which are presumed to be stolen. Want to give this guy a ride?

The soft-spoken and goatee’d artist, Joe Carnevale, has fans. Thousands of them. And they are putting pressure on a district attorney in Raleigh, N.C. to drop larceny charges. More than 3,000 people from as far away as Korea and Brazil have joined a Facebook group calling for his charges to be thrown out. His supporters are sympathetic, and together help form a type of cultural resistance to authority.

“It’s easy to see why it would be very hard to come down emotionally on the side of police on this one,” says Robert Thompson, a pop culture expert at Syracuse University, in New York. “This wasn’t a ‘get us out of Iraq monster,’ it’s a hitchhiking monster, and it played on the irritation that most people feel when they see traffic barrels, which usually mean a traffic jam. One of the dangers of being a guerrilla artist is that you might get arrested. One of the dangers of being a prosecutor is that you occasionally have to prosecute people who are popular.”

The president of Hamlett Associates, owner of the barrels, has urged the city not to prosecute. The cost of the barrels ($385) has been redeemed by the fact that Hamlett Associates may now be the only such company to be known around the world. The head of the company even wants to use the barrel sculpture for promotion, saying, “I love the barrel monster. Guerrilla sculpture is rather rare in street art and is generally stolen and hoarded as fast as it’s produced. Played right, the city could have a new souvenir that sells like hotcakes on the Internet, but I’m sure they won’t be that smart.”

Probably the most famous guerrilla artist, known at Banksy, is anonymous in this “age of celebrity.” He makes artwork with social commentary, looking for human interaction, while other artists happily cash in. Known for his graffiti work, artist Banksy has intrigued audiences with his art and identity since he began stenciling (and vandalizing) public property in the early ’90s. (No official image of the guy even exists, but there are a few theories as to his identity.) His work has been produced on walls in London, Brighton, Bristol and even on the West Bank barrier separating the Israelis and Palestinians. His works have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars and he has dozens of celebrity collectors including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera.

Known for installing his own work surreptitiously in museums, Banksy recently helped mount a surprise exhibit in his hometown– Banksy vs. Bristol Museum. The exhibit is supposed to be Banksy’s way of thanking Bristol for giving his street art its first canvas.

Another favorite (and famous) guerrilla artist has seen more copyright infringement that almost any other artist! Shepard Fairey, a street artist famous for his red, white, and blue “Hope” posters of President Barack Obama, was arrested and accused of tagging property with graffiti this last January. He was arrested on his way to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston for the opening of his first solo exhibition, “Supply and Demand.”

According to the museum, he had spent the previous two weeks in the city installing the exhibition and creating outdoor art. Those works included a 6 meter by 15 meter banner on the side of city hall. Fairey had been arrested numerous times for painting on buildings and other private property without permission. Such is the life of a graffitti artist.

His famed image of Obama has been sold on millions of stickers, T-shirts, and posters, and was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington before Obama’s inauguration this last January. There are 373,000 Google hits for the words “Fairey Obama”.

According to the Associated Press, the image is the subject of a copyright dispute between them and Fairey. The artist argues that his use of the AP photo is protected by “fair use”, which allows exceptions to copyright laws based on (among other factors) how much of the original is used, what the new work is used for, and how the original is affected by the new work.