Congratulations are in order for the three presumably-unsuspecting tourists who paused to patronize a sale of stencil art on the Upper East Side over the weekend. They are now the owners of original, signed canvases by Banksy, sold for $60 — and said to be worth as much as $31,000 each.
The sale is the latest stunt in the British street artist's month-long New York residency, which he recently called "pointless," adding: "There is absolutely no reason for doing this show at all." Among the tricks he's unleashed so far: a waterfall diorama built into the back of a truck and hauled through Lower Manhattan; a portrait of an altar boy that was promptly transformed into propaganda for Free Cooper Union; a meat truck packed with stuffed animals; and a painting of a beaver trying to eat a "no parking" sign.
Last we checked in with the elusive art personality, a handful of Brooklynites were charging visitors $5 to see the latter piece in East New York. It was unclear if Banksy was in on that plot (a "performance piece," if you will). But this time we know the artist is playing with notions of his art's value and monetary worth: he set up a bored-looking older man to sell his stencil work at the booth by Central Park. Here's a video he posted to his New York website, noting that he wouldn't be repeating the stunt:
As seen in the clip, the patrons included a woman who negotiated a 50 percent discount before buying two canvases, a second woman from New Zealand who also bought two, and a Chicago man who threw down for four and got himself a free hug in the process. They all happened to pass by the sale on Fifth Avenue, where real collectors and art world types are likely to pass by without a second glance on their way to the nearby Guggenheim or Met.
A lesson for native New Yorkers: sometimes the herds of tourists are one step ahead.
Top image: Banksy.