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

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…