It’s caused quite a bit of debate this whole thing, the sale of ‘Banksy’ street pieces with authentication from Vermin, a body set up without Banksy’s approval to authenticate Banksy street work for sale.
A lot of the discussion at the time seemed to suggest that Banksy couldn’t authenticate street works as it would leave him criminally liable for the works, but this always seemed a bit suspect as a) he actually asks for permission to paint more than people generally think and b) where he doesn’t, he doesn’t seem to care much about the risks by all accounts anyway.
A few weeks ago anyway, meant to blog it at the time, Pest Control (his official authentication body) issued a statement relating to the whole thing;
Pest Control does not authenticate street pieces because Banksy
prefers street work to remain in situ and building owners tend to
become irate when their doors go missing because of a stencil.
Banksy has a casual attitude to copyright and encourages the
reproduction of his work for your own personal amusement, so it’s
with regret that he finds himself having to deem pieces either
‘real’ or ‘fake’. He would encourage anyone wanting to purchase
one of his images to do so with extreme caution, but does point
out that many copies are superior in quality to the originals.
Since the creation of Pest Control in January 2008 we have identified
89 street pieces and 137 screen prints falsely attributed to the artist.
Due to the fact many Banksy pieces are created in an advanced
state of intoxication the authentication process can be lengthy and
challenging. We ask for your patience when using this service.
Hard to say if it was this, or the credit crunch or what, but either way, none of the claimed street pieces in the Lyon and Turnbull auction sold last Saturday, and oddly neither did many of the officially authenticated prints as well. Not a great sale for the auction house or the new authentication body then.
There’s something odder here though, think a previous commenter pointed it out, one of the pieces in the auction, ‘Fungle Junk’, was almost certainly genuine, and a really good example of early Banksy freehand work as well (though it’s a bit much to claim the rarely used Sid Vicious stencil is one of Banksy’s most iconic images, that stenciled grenade in it was around more on the streets). But Pest Control wouldn’t authenticate it, seemingly because it wasn’t created for sale.
Seems Banksy’s pulled off something pretty shrewd here then, complete control over what works of his can and cannot be sold with authentication (and thus sold at all in effect). The winners really do write the history books don’t they.