People Can’t Even Give Banksy’s Work Away, Let Alone Sell It

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Remember that heady time about a year ago when a scrappy young street artist named Bansky held a city captive with his whimsical work? Sure you do! It was pretty much all anyone could talk about while the surprise street art was popping up all over New York—from Staten Island to Red Hook to the Upper West Side—as part of a “residency” in which Banksy left behind dozens of works of graffiti and sculpture on city streets and buildings, including private residences. At the time, home- and business-owners were told that the work left behind by Banksy would undoubtedly sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus rendering their admittedly already incredible valuable property (hey, it’s New York) even more valuable. Jackpot!

Or, you know, jacknot. According to the New York Post, people are trying to sell their Banksy-originals, but nobody’s buying. And even worse: nobody is taking the work for free. The Post spoke with “Cara Tabachnick, whose family owns the East Williamsburg building on Graham Avenue where Banksy painted two geishas,” and she claims that while the Brooklyn Museum originally expressed interest in having the work donated (less the cost of removing and transporting the artwork), once representatives from the museum came to inspect the geishas, they never followed up with Tabachnick, who assumes museum staff “decided it wasn’t worth it.”

The Post also reports that “two big pieces repped by Manhattan’s Keszler Gallery—the balloon-heart wall and a spray-painted car door—failed to sell in Miami in February, despite a $250,000 offer on the balloon and $145,000 for the car door. They had wanted between $400,000 and $600,000 and up to $300,000 respectively.”

So what does this all mean? Was all that Bansky buzz nothing more than bullshit? Yeah, sure, a little bit! Which is why the price of some of these pieces was over-estimated, leading sellers to hold tight to their little bits of street cred until a later date, when Banksy is again in the news, which is bound to happen someday. Because if there’s one thing you can count on with trends in the art world (or any cultural endeavor, really), it’s that trends will get recycled. And so it goes.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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