Banksy Is Not “A Bust,” No Matter What The Post Says

October 8, 2014 | Rhett Jones

According to the New York Post, “Banksy’s a Bust!” His market is so bad that the Brooklyn Museum won’t even take a free piece by the famous street artist, the tabloid claims.

Cara Tabachnick, whose family owns a building in East Williamsburg where Banksy painted two geishas during his month-long Better Out Than In “artist residency” in New York, told the Post that October’s Banksy-mania was “overwhelming.” Now, Tabachnick asserts that the demand for Banksy has waned. She says she offered the wall to the Brooklyn Museum for the cost of removal and “They, I guess, decided it wasn’t worth it.”

Strangely, the article doesn’t include a statement from the museum, so ANIMAL reached out for comment. Sally Williams, the Brooklyn Museum’s Public Information Officer, promptly responded:

Although the offer from the owners of the building was extremely generous, nothing is “free” and rarely easy. The work in question, though highly appealing, would have meant the removal and support of a brick wall; the repair of the existing exterior wall; the safe transport of a fragile object to the Museum; and long-term and difficult issues of storage and display. While Banksy is an interesting artist, on balance this complex process appeared inappropriate to undertake.

The Post’s headline — “Museums won’t even take Banksy’s art for free” — is inaccurate. Their subject is one particular museum and the art isn’t free, considering the costs of the removal process — not to mention, possible liability for structural alterations to a building. (The “Banksy’s street art in London” caption of the image immediately below the headline is also inaccurate; the piece is in Clacton-on-Sea.)

The Post also spoke with gallerists who have tried to sell other pieces from Banksy’s Better Out Than In series. Supposedly, Stephan Keszler of Keszler Gallery is now slashing his prices down to $425,000 for the Redhook’s red balloon wall and $200,000 for the “Crazy Horse” car door. Back in February, ANIMAL reported that the two pieces were at auction in Miami with “starting bids of $200,000 and $100,000 respectively.” Doesn’t seem like too significant of a change.

The fact is that the Better Out Than In series was meant to be a show for the people and Banksy was just giving work away. That can be off-putting to collectors who like the feeling of exclusivity. Keszler himself says, “His street art is a publicity for his studio works — (for) which prices have increased significantly over the years.”

Moving giant walls around isn’t that easy. When the work is on canvas, as it was with Banksy’s donation to Housing Works, the small, portable piece went for over $450,000.

The Post is, at best, vastly exaggerating. For all professional artists, the market will go up and it will go down, but Banksy is part of a hallowed few members in the art world that are always more in than out.