Banksy, the mysterious British street artist has again come into the spotlight. This time his work is in Miami on the auction block. Known for his contempt of the government for labeling street art as vandalism, Banksy is also recognized for his often satirical and social commentary left on city walls, streets and bridges around the world. His work possesses a distinctive stenciling technique that has been compared to another street artist, Parisian Blek le Rat who has been called the “Father of Stencil Graffiti.”
In October 2013, Banksy stenciled a red heart-shaped balloon covered in Band-Aids, entitled Bandaged Heart on a wall of a warehouse in Red Hook, New York as part of his month-long “residency.” Banksy created pieces throughout the city, leading admirers and critics on a daily quest to discover new pieces from his Better Out Than In series.
The Bandaged Heart piece had an audio guide on Banksy’s website to explain the meaning behind his art. It stated that it was clearly “an iconic representation of the battle to survive a broken heart.”
Almost immediately, after Banksy and left his mark, a rival street artist, Omar NYC, painted over it. According to street art expert, Sebastien Laboureau, Banksy has made such a name for himself, “other artists become jealous.” Shortly afterwards, “is a jealous little girl” was written under Omar NYC’s tag, which Laboureau believes was done by Banksy. To Laboureau, the commentary increases the value of the piece “because it’s a testament.”
When graffiti strikes, typically, a property owner is enraged, and the graffiti is whitewashed immediately. Business owner, Vassilio Georgiadis was not angry. He had crowds gathering outside his warehouse to admire the art. Once he realized the value, Georgiadis spent two weeks attempting to protect the Bandaged Heart with lights, night surveillance and plexiglass among threats. He said that people were either hostile or imploring him to save it.
In this case, Georgiadis sold the segment of the wall to New York art dealer, Stephan Keszler, looking to recover from “heavy financial damage” from Hurricane Sandy. The concrete wall section, weighing approximately 7,000 pounds, was sent to Miami, and the work went on the auction block at Miami’s Fine Art Auction. Laboureau estimated that the piece would sell from $400,000 to $600,000.
Owning a piece of street art is analogous to 1970s Pop Art like Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans with the same quality and phenomenon, and generally purchased by new collectors from all over the world. “It’s very topical art,” stated Laboureau, “it’s art that talks to everybody” and “it’s part of the world we live in.”
Fine Art Auction Miami (FAAM) is one of the first key auction houses worldwide to hold an exhibition and auction solely devoted to notable street art from artists like Banksy. Two of Banksy works, Bandaged Heart and Kissing Coppers, which in black and white, portrays two English police officers kissing in his trademark stencil style. This second work was removed from the side of Brighton’s Prince Albert Pub in 2004. On February 18th, it sold for $575,000 to an anonymous telephone buyer.
In the past, 11 of Banksy’s pieces have been sold at auction including Flower Girl, TV Girl and The Rude Lord, with his 2008 Keep It Spotless reaching a record sale of $1.87 million.
by Dawn Levesque