Next time an old man on the street tries to sell you a piece of black and white spray paint art, check it out. It might be worth a small fortune.
Banksy, the notoriously anonymous British street artist, is on a month-long stint in New York City and is unveiling a new piece of art every day throughout the city. This weekend he sold signed pieces of artwork — which normally go for hundreds of thousands of dollars — out of a booth near Central Park for $60 per painting.
To protect his anonymity, Banksy had an elderly man operate the booth for him. According to video footage from Banksy’s website, it was four hours before the first sale was made. The only advertisement was a sign that said “Spray art. $60.”
The booth’s first customer was a woman who managed to negotiate a 50-percent discount on the art, and many paintings remained unsold at the end of the day. In total, the booth made $420. Banksy, who has never revealed his name or shown his face despite being the star of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” said the following in an email interview with the Village Voice:
“There is absolutely no reason for doing this [New York] show at all,” he wrote. “I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached. There’s no gallery show or book or film. It’s pointless. Which hopefully means something.”
His New York show, titled “Better Out Than In,” has so far included pieces such as a painted battle scene featuring horses in night-vision goggles covering a wall and a nearby parked car, and a slaughterhouse truck full of stuffed animals driving through the meatpacking district.
You can follow Banksy’s New York exploits and listen to his audioguides on his website.