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The street artist known as Banksy belongs to what is sometimes called the “Bristol
Scene,” which includes creatives from different genres, notably music.
You've probably heard of some of the artists that are or were part of this scene, including
Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky.
Graffiti was also a big part of the scene, and while there were many artists around,
the one you've all heard of is Banksy.
His stenciling style is known all over the world, as are his attacks on the establishment
and what he sees as human rights abuses.
It's said he was expelled from school as a kid, and took to the streets to paint on
walls.
No one is certain who he really is as he keeps his identity secret, although there is lots
of speculation as to his real identity.
But how does a disestablishment hero like Banksy actually earn a living?
Welcome to this episode of the Infographics Show, How does Banksy make money?
This guy started out young, and you could see his graffiti around Bristol, London and
Brighton way back in the 90s.
One of his earliest creations that became well known was a mural called the “Mild
Mild West” which featured a teddy bear throwing a Molotov Cocktail at riot police.
Much of his work is related to what you might call government oppression, but it's not
always deadly serious.
Another of his most famous works was called “Kissing Coppers”, which of course was
a picture of two policemen kissing.
This he drew on a pub wall in a seaside town called Brighton, which is often called England's
gay capital.
When we ask how Banksy makes his money and how he doesn't make his money we only need
to look as far as that beautiful mural of two cops having a good old snog, as they might
say in the UK.
Banksy sprayed this piece of art on that wall back in 2004, but a decade later it was sold
to an anonymous buyer in the USA.
Hmm, how do you sell something sprayed on a wall?
And who does the art belong to, the owner of the wall or the artist?
First of all, to sell it you have to strip it from the wall.
That happened with the kissing coppers and it was sold for $575,000 at a U.S. auction.
A writer for the BBC said this about Banksy's art, “If you happen to own a wall which
Banksy has used as a canvas for one of his art works - I should imagine you are perfectly
within your rights to hack it out and sell it.”
So, if you own the wall, and you are absolutely skint (British word for broke), you are in
luck.
But how much goes to Banksy?
The answer, it seems, is nada.
The same goes for when someone took one of his most famous creations from a wall in London.
Banksy had drawn something he called “Slave Labor (Bunting Boy),” which featured a poverty-stricken
boy sewing Union Jack flags on a piece of string, or bunting.
This was a protest piece of art relating to sweatshops and the manufacturing of Diamond
Jubilee and London Olympics memorabilia.
One day it went missing, and no one knew who had took it down.
It first sold in the USA for somewhere between $500,000-700,000, but residents of the area
complained, stating that the art belonged to them.
It was an important artifact that brought human rights issues to the fore.
It was returned to the UK and later sold at auction in London for $1.1 million.
But again, Banksy didn't see any of the cash.
He even commented after this, about the selling of his graffiti, saying, “I was very embarrassed
when my canvases began to fetch high prices, I saw myself condemned to a future of painting
nothing but masterpieces.”
That's the art world for some people, a kind of posh con, where art becomes commoditized
by people who pretend they know a lot about it.
Now Banksy is so famous his works, never mind what they are, will bring a high price.
Sometimes the price of the art obfuscates the inherent value of it, something Banksy
doesn't seem to like.
Banksy often criticizes abject greed, the worst aspect of capitalism, so it's no wonder
he is upset.
He fought back, and in 2018 you could say he gave us his piece de resistance.
His famous sketch of a little girl releasing a balloon self-destructed at auction after
it had been sold for $1.4 million.
This was a copy of the original piece of art, on paper, which shredded inside its own frame
after it had been sold.
Banksy later wrote, “the urge to destroy is also a creative urge”, which was a direct
Picasso quote.
Some people believe Banksy was even in the room as it happened, in disguise, likely watching
with a wry smile.
A video was also later released of someone fitting the shredder in the frame.
Some people believe the destroyed work is now more valuable than it was when it was
intact.
The auction house later called it, “the first work in history ever created during
a live auction.”
They will stop at nothing to add more value to art.
Banksy does have to make a living, though, and that he does.
He has made money many ways, but we think the most amusing way he made some cash and
perhaps something that shows us how crazy the art scene is, is when Banksy's art was
sold at a street stall in New York in 2013.
No one really thought these pieces could be originals, so it wasn't easy selling them
for around $60.
Banksy then put out a message, saying, “Yesterday I set up a stall in the park selling 100
For $60 each.”
So, yes, he made a little bit of pocket money.
The lucky buyers, reported the Guardian, bought pieces now worth up to $150,000.
One art critic called the event a “coup.”
He said, “The fact that his paintings were original and were being offered at a tiny
fraction of their true retail value, raises real questions about the perception of worth
and the nature of art as commodity within the marketplace.”
One woman sold her two sketches soon after for $125,000.
A job well done.
There are plenty of Banksy fakes in the world, and no one really knows the difference from
them and an original.
When something is real, though, Banksy will let people know most of the time.
So, we know that Banksy is not compensated for the works that are ripped from walls,
but he does make money from prints.
He has sold such prints through a Bristol-based dealer called Pictures on Walls (POW) for
thousands of dollars, but POW closed in January 2018.
In some ways you could say that for Banksy he has a license to print money.
After all, whatever he touches turns to gold, even if he doesn't like that.
He has said he wished his street art would stay where it was meant to stay, and not because
he cares about his own compensation.
“Graffiti art has a hard enough life as it is, before you add hedge-fund managers
wanting to chop it out and hang it over the fireplace,” he said in 2013.
“For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs, I'd encourage people not
to buy anything by anybody, unless it was created for sale in the first place.”
In fact, it's said that he can make around $20 million a year, but that's just speculation.
His 2005 book “Wall and Piece” sold well, and his movie “Exit through the gift shop”
grossed $5million.
Banksy also sells pieces through the agency called Pest Control.
He sometimes sells his stencils for way less than the market value, and so as an act of
kindness he allows someone perhaps in need of money to make some money.
On top of that, if he does make money from a big sell, he often gives that cash to charity.
Pest Control has said that Banksy is not a traditional artist by any means.
Talking about how he makes his cash, the agency said, “He does not sell through galleries,
he doesn't have solo or group shows in the traditional sense, but will sell privately,
behind closed doors through Pest Control, the proceeds from which are used to realize
his projects, which are significant in scale and ambition.”
People that sell his artwork, or rip it from walls, do make a lot of money.
This has astounded Banksy at times.
He once wrote after one of his works went for well over a million bucks, “I can't
believe you morons actually buy this.”
Could it be your wall he uses next?
It's unlikely as he often chooses publicly owned walls, but there's a chance that it
could be you and you could collect a lottery size windfall.
If indeed you decide
to sell.
What do you think?
Should his art be sold on, or should it remain where it is as part of the community and to
deliver an often important message?
Should it end up in the arms of art collectors?
What do you think about the value of his art?
Tell us in the comments.
Also, be sure to check out our other show This Man Spent 43 Years In Isolation - How
Long Until A Person Goes Crazy?
Thanks for watching, and as always, don't forget to like, share and subscribe.
See you next time.
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How Does Banksy Make Money?

36 Folder Collection
nanako.kamiya published on July 23, 2020
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