Landlords may make bank off Banksy’s street graffiti in NYC

Banksy's newest work is a kid playing a strongman game on the Upper West Side. Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork
Banksy’s newest work is a kid playing a strongman game on the Upper West Side. Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork

Imagine, for a moment, that you own a building in New York City.

One morning, you notice an oddly charming character or phrase spray painted on your wall. You shrug it off as the work of vandals, but by midmorning the sidewalk is swarming with people snapping photos, and you realize you have something valuable on your hands. Now what?

That’s the situation several city property owners are finding themselves in this month thanks to the anonymous British street artist Banksy.

On Oct. 1, Banksy announced “Better Out Than In,” a monthlong “residency on the streets of New York.” Each day since, he has unveiled another piece, sending fans (and rivals) into a frenzy.

Banksy has created a number of multimedia and performance works, but mostly, he has been spray-painting stencils all over the city. And this could be good news for building owners.

The artist’s canvasses regularly fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars — and his outdoor work even more. In June of this year, an unsanctioned Banksy mural in north London was cut out of the wall and sold at auction for over $1 million.

A few property owners have secured Banksy’s pieces since his “residency” began. After he scrawled a quote cheekily attributed to the philosopher Plato on the door of a Greenpoint warehouse, the owner removed it, hinges and all. Owners in Red Hook and Williamsburg have taken similar actions to protect their newly adorned walls.

If any of these property owners decide to sell these “vandalized” works of art, they may face challenges. Apart from the backlash from street art aficionados, there is the practical problem of authenticating the work.

In 2008, Banksy created Pest Control, a service that verifies his work, to help cut down on fraud. Pest Control only authenticates paintings and prints, not street pieces, making them impossible to sell in the world’s biggest auction houses.

“Major auction houses guarantee the authenticity of their work,” said Angelo Madrgiale, a “street art specialist” for auction house Doyle New York. “In Banksy’s case, an auction house can’t guarantee the work’s authenticity without having the certificate from Pest Control.”

“This work was not meant to be bought or sold,” Madrgiale added. “The artwork they authenticate are prints, works on canvas, and other such works that were shown in galleries or otherwise created with the intent of being purchased.”

Certain art galleries and auction houses disagree, and are happy to deal with works taken straight from the street. One such retailer, New York’s Keszler Gallery, has brokered the sale of several Banksy street pieces in recent years. According to owner Stephan Keszler, three individuals have contacted the gallery about selling Banksys since the artist’s citywide spree began.

Keszler estimates that the “Plato” door could fetch between $20,000 and $40,000.

Though there’s sometimes a stigma surrounding buying and selling street art, Keszler believes the practice shouldn’t be demonized, as the pieces can sometimes bring unwanted attention to a building, or in some cases additional vandalism.

“Let’s assume you have a building in Brooklyn, and all of a sudden, there’s a Banksy piece on your wall,” Keszler said. “People gather outside, they destroy the work, they paint on your building, they hammer on it. What would you do?”

“It’s not immoral,” he added. “It’s just the way it is.”

Read more about the newest Banksy at AnimalNewYork.com.


View Banksy comes to New York in a larger map


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Local

BSL, El to run all night on summer…

Officials announced this week that it would institute a pilot program this summer that would keep the El operational from 5 a.m. Friday morning until midnight Monday morning starting in…

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

Arts

Peek behind the scenes at the Academy of…

Generations of visitors have marveled at the dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences, watching apprehensively at the puma perpetually poised to attack the unsuspecting…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.