Below is an example of how Banksy sells his original works on canvas – on a stall in the middle of Central Park, without much fuss about it.


And in contrast to this, his ‘Kissing Coppers’ piece, removed from its natural environment (a Brighton pub) , auctioned and sold at the Fine Art Auctions, Miami 2014 to an anonymous buyer for the hefty £345 000. 

 


Credit: Joe Raedle | Getty Images.

Rumours that Banksyis ‘retired’ and not making any works for sale and the fact that he is enlisted in the artnet’s Top 100 Most Collectible Living Artistsfor December 2014 fuelled certain art dealers to take it all to extremes and arrange for the removal of more of his site-specific street works to be sold at Art Miami Basel 2014 . Instead of being left to serve its initial purpose – to benefit the communities of Folkestone, another site-specific piece - the ‘Art Buff’ has been chiselled off, ‘ framed, fully restored’ (art dealer Robin Barton of the Bankrobber gallery for the Folkestone Herald) and sent off to Miami. The wall is ‘expected to sell for in the region of £470,000 or $740,000’. Quite a serious amount of money for a mural ‘gifted’ to a whole community by the artist for free. 

‘Art Buff’ before being removed to be privately auctioned.

Photographer: Gareth Fuller. 

Unfortunately, offering original street pieces on private auctions is not a precedent. In 2010, for example, a few of Banksy murals in Bethlehem (such as Wet Dog and Stop and Search) has been removed, and appeared on ebay for $500,000 each. Practice such as this not only debates about the actual fiscal value of those pieces, but also about validity when taken out of context. Moreover, those sales raise serious ethical, cultural and market issues. Why has become so acceptable to have illicit site-specific pieces sold privately, when they were meant to stay for everyone to enjoy and look at? What makes Banksy outdoor works truly valuable is the successful combination of carefully chosen location, with to the point message they carry. When removed unethically from their context, all that is left is a piece of skilfully stencilled wall.

Banksy might not be currently producing works for sale, however, he still has a stable and valid secondary market, where indoor pieces (meant to be bought and collected) are not difficult to be found and purchased through legitimate gallery sources ethically. All that is needed is a bit of a research. 

To be continued...

 

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