Who technically “owns” Street Art installed without permission in a public location, on a private building? This question is currently being raised in blogs all over the web. It is a question that is further blurred by the fact that many street artists deny involvement in their guerrilla activities for legal reasons and have never intended their work to be sold as a commodity in the first place.
The Banksy stencil and bunting wall mural that was hacked from a wall in Wood Green London last week is estimated to sell for at least $500,000, at auction later today.That’s if anyone will touch it with a barge pole! Frederic Thut, owner and auctioneer at the inconsequential ‘Fine Art Auctions Miami’, said they plan to sell “the Bunting Boy” as planned this Saturday and that his company had acquired it legitimately. “Not everything is owned by the public,” he said. “Some things are owned by private owners, and our research shows, the wall (where it was removed) is a private wall, so I think that the right thing is to ask the owner of the building.” It is likely that due to all the adverse publicity the mural, (which Pest Control the body that authenticates Banksy’s work have disowned) will go unsold.
Artlyst has been told by Miami insiders that the Banksy was allegedly consigned by the notorious Keszler Gallery from the Hamptons in New York. During last December’s Art Basel Miami week Keszler exhibited two Banksy murals crudely removed from Bethlehem in 2007. The works were exhibited in a show of Street Art by the Bristol born artist which included the iconic Kissing Policemen mural which was hacked off of a Brighton Pub and sold last year. Stephan Keszler, the owner of the eponymous gallery, and Robin Barton, the owner of London’s Bankrobber Gallery could very well be involved in this latest incident.
It now appears that Banksy has had the final word A stencil image of a rat holding a card saying ‘Why?’ has appeared in the same spot in Wood Green North London.
Otherwise Banksy has distanced himself from all of the controversy, If however, this sale is successful and the work realises a huge sum of money, what will be the future for the thousands of pieces of Street Art, dotted around the globe. We may soon find many other cases of installations being hacked from our streets and sold on through unscrupulous dealers and auction rooms.