A Chicago man scores hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Banksy art for $60 each in New York.
Unsuspecting tourists who thought they were buying cheap Banksy knock-offs have scored the bargain of a lifetime after the elusive street artist revealed the paintings were really his.
Banksy used an anonymous old man to sell several of his original works for US$60 ($63.60) from a stall in New York’s Central Park on Sunday.
The paintings are actually worth around $42,400 each.
It took hours for the man to make his first sale, no doubt because everyone thought he was selling counterfeits.
His first customer was a woman who bought two small canvases for her children – but only after haggling him down to a half-price discount.
Banksy – a pseudonym for the world-famous English graffiti artist whose identity is unknown – revealed the ruse on his website today.
“Yesterday I set up a stall in the park selling 100 per cent authentic original signed Banksy canvases. For $60 each,” he wrote. “Please note: This was a one off. The stall will not be there again today.”
He also posted a two-and-a-half minute video to show how the day unfolded.
For the first few hours, the man sat around as people walked past the three dozen or so paintings – which could have a combined estimated value of up to $1.59 million. The black-and-white paintings were simply marked “SPRAY ART” with another sign that said “$60”.
Just before 11.15am, a woman is seen looking at a painting. She decides not to buy it and walks off. Streams of people walk past until the man makes his first sale at 3.30pm.
At 4pm, a woman from New Zealand buys two paintings. She shakes the man’s hand but he seals the deal by kissing her cheek.
At 5.30pm, a Chicago man tells the vendor he is decorating his new house, explaining, “I just need something for the walls.” He buys four paintings with a potential combined value of $227,529 for a mere $254. The old man says goodbye by giving him a hug.
At 6pm, the man packs up his stall and leaves. The total takings were $445, despite the sold art being worth an estimated $233,200 to $339,200.
Banksy is currently hosting a month-long “live exhibition” called Better Out Than In: An Artist Residency on the Streets of New York, in which he creates a new piece of outdoor art each day. So far, he has spray-painted an elaborate work onto an abandoned car and arranged for a cattle truck full of shrieking soft toys to be driven around the city.
While Banksy has drawn international acclaim over the years, not everyone is impressed. Last week, a British waste management company demanded he be arrested for vandalism. A spokesman said they would set a trap involving a giant cargo net to catch the mysterious painter.