“Their whole story is absurd,” said Alf Naman to ANIMAL about the New York Post’s claim that Banksy paid $50,000 to rent a lot under the High Line to hang canvasses for a few days.
And Naman would know. He owns that lot at 504-506 West 24th Street. “I gave it to him,” explained Naman by phone Tuesday evening. “It was free.” The wealthy real estate developer and patron of the arts was out of town during the exhibition, attending Frieze London.
The article was relayed to its sister company, Fox News. Soon after the story broke, Banksy posted an update to his website. “Contrary to reports on Fox News, this space was kindly donated for free by the owner,” wrote the street artist.
“I don’t know where they got their information,” said Naman.
He received a phone call asking him if he could donate the space and Naman asked what was going to be put there. “They told me it was going to be Banksy.” According to Naman, Team Banksy already had plans for a place but “lost their space” and the whole thing with Naman’s lot “was impromptu.”
“It was one of these last minute things and Banksy seemed intent on doing it,” said Naman, who has long history of supporting the Chelsea art scene and is quite familiar with Banksy’s work. “I love what he’s doing. I was kind of intrigued.”
However, he had two caveats: Banksy must pay for his own security and insurance. “As long as you can comply with that, I don’t have a problem, we’ll give it to you,” Naman says he told Banksy’s crew.
Banksy unveiled the exhibit on October 18 as part of his ongoing Better Out Than In campaign. Two large canvasses, a collaboration between Banksy and Os Gemeos, were hung from chains and put on display from 11am until midnight, Friday through Sunday. Hundreds of people squeezed into the outdoor space daily, to get a glimpse of the work as a security guard stood idly by.
“I missed the whole thing,” says Naman. “I wish I got to see it.”
(Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)