In a brazen act of chutzpah even by the standards of the graffiti world, where gaming each other is commonplace, pseudononymous global sticker-bomber, BNE, has fraudulently claimed to have collaborated on t-shirts with Banksy, the undisputed king of street-art, for the benefit of World Water Day. BNE’s announced collaboration, which came last week—claiming to be a fundraiser specifically for charity:water—predictably blew-up on streetwear blogs because it would have been the first ever retail product by Banksy. UPDATE: Sreengrab of Pest Control email below. UPDATE 2: Banksy confirms ANIMAL’s story on his official website: “Banksy has not made any t-shirts for a water charity.”
Adding to the confusion, the limited edition (of 500) t-shirts, released after much hype on Saturday afternoon, are blank (“[with] a hologram tag for authenticity”), and purport to take as long as 3-months to arrive at your door, bne.org states. Only at that point will “you get to see the artwork.” We contacted Pest Control, the authenticity agency Banksy set up in 2008, and asked if Banksy was involved. They replied, “no he is not.” His official publicist, Jo Brooks, concurred, “fake.”
Lending some initial credibility to BNE’s claim was Artists4Water, his recent roll-out of t-shirts with street art a-listers Faile, Invader and Shepard Fairey, the latter who donated a piece of work for Water Day–currently being sold for $3,500. For the last drive, according to BNE, “about 20%” of revenue was donated to charity:water, the decidedly legitimate NYC based non-profit, through their independent fundraising platform.
Speaking with ANIMAL on Friday, BNE said that he was introduced to Bansksy by Fairey, adding that after outlining his mission of creating a product for the water charity “Banksy was very supportive” going so far as to agree to allow BNE to keep 75% of the collaboration’s revenue and donate the rest. When Fairey was asked via email if he did indeed introduce BNE to Banksy, Fairey answered, “I can’t comment on the Banksy connection.” Further pressed if he could confirm the Water Day collaboration, he added, “that’s between BNE and Banksy.”
Later Friday, after some prodding about the charity’s platform and mission BNE suddenly reversed course and said he would give all the profits away, emailing later, “you can buy a Banksy product or a Shepard piece, that’s it. 100% donated.” Paull Young spokesperson for charity:water, who was unaware of the alleged Banksy collaboration until Friday, emailed, “Yes, apparently giving 100% of the proceeds now—-good stuff.”
As of now, BNE has only commented, “let me email [Banksy].” Then added, “Artists…Lol.”
Here’s what we asked Pest Control:
I’m working on a story about BNE’s involvement with World Water Day. Can you confirm that Banksy is collaborating on some sort of limited product for the benefit of charity:water, for tomorrow, which is World Water Day.
This was their response:
(Illustration: Michael Ian Weinfeld)