How Does Banksy Make Money?

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[Vider id=81 ]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% authentic original signed Banksy canvases. 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.