Remember last October when Banksy visited and it was all anyone could talk about? It’s fair to say it was a pretty exciting moment in an otherwise uneventful month and it proved to be a great conversation starter at parties where you didn’t know anyone.
More than a few people directly profited from Banksy randomly choosing to tag the walls and properties they owned and today, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that yet another “victim” of dumb luck will see a Bansky piece he used to own go up for auction in Miami.
Shortly after Bansky tagged a building in Red Hook with an image of a battered heart-shaped balloon, owner Vassilio Georgiadis sold the wall (yes, the freakin’ wall) to art dealer Stephan Keszler for an undisclosed amount. Now, Keszler is taking the newly-dubbed “Bandaged Heart Balloon” to Fine Art Auctions Miami’s upcoming street art exhibit where it’s rumored that the piece could go for somewhere between $400,000 and $600,000.
A bit of background: Between October 7 when the balloon debuted and the day it was taken away, graffiti artist Omar NYC defaced the piece with his own tag in broad daylight. Shortly thereafter, someone (presumably Banksy) added the words “is a jealous little girl” to Omar’s self-titled tag. A few other people decided to put in their two-cents and it got so bad that Georgiadis ended up covering the whole thing in plexiglas. Though all the activity probably depreciated the value of the piece, it’s now being marketed as evidence of “the dialogue between street artists.”
Banksy’s balloon will be sold alongside street art by other big names like Bambi, Swoon, Jean-Michel Basquiat and two other Banksy pieces entitled “Kissing Coppers” and “Crazy Horse Car Door,” the latter being another piece from Banksy’s NYC residency.
This opens a very interesting dialogue about a street artist’s ownership over his/her work once it goes up. The inherent criminality of the medium makes it impossible for a street artist to publicly defend his/her art other than tagging again or taking to the web to offer further commentary. If this auction is successful then it means that street art, the last frontier of truly underground art, no longer (or never) belongs to the people who make it. It means that these high-risk works belong to the “victim” and then the highest bidder. Kind of a sad thought if you ask us.
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