How did two Banksy works originally stenciled in Palestine end up in the Hamptons? This question promises to be one of the hot topics of conversation at many East End BBQs this weekend, so here's a primer:
· Bansky is a British street artist who is perhaps best known for stenciling or graffiti on public surfaces (like walls). His true identity is not widely known.
· Two works — Wet Dog, which originally appeared on a bus stop, and Stop and Search, which originally appeared on the wall of a butcher shop — are now among the works for sale at the Keszler Gallery in Southampton. Bankrobber Gallery, a UK-based gallery, partnered with Keszler to bring the works out of the Middle East.
· People are calling this show "unsanctioned."
· A "Palestinian entrepreneur" originally removed the paintings and the two galleries claim they only got involved once they discovered that "the works were sitting in a stone mason's backyard for years."
· Banksy fans argued that "the artist intended the works for the West Bank and the galleries had no right to remove them."
· The galleries "tracked down the works, purchased them from the unidentified owners, shipped them to Israel and then to a fresco specialist in Britain to remove excess dirt." Wet Dog is now for sale for $420,000 and Stop and Search is priced at $450,000.
· Bansky works are certified for authenticity by an organization called Pest Control. They haven't authenticated the two works in Southampton (because they do not authenticate works that have been "removed from their original context"). Pest Control says, "We have warned Mr. Keszler of the serious implications of selling unauthenticated works but he seems to not care. We have no doubt that these works will come back to haunt Mr. Keszler."
· The Bankrobber Gallery says, "The works are completely represented in timeline photography, and they appear on Banksy’s website. The evidence has to be bulletproof, if you’ll excuse the pun, to do something like this."
· The Keszler Gallery says, "In a perfect world, as per the wishes of the artist, the works would always be at their purest when they remain site-specific, but the harsh reality is that very few pieces survive...They would have absolutely been destroyed in Palestine."
· The galleries made a promotional video promoting the Banksy works, which has angered many:
Unfortunately, Banksy could not be reached for comment.
· Unsanctioned Banksy Show @ Keszler Gallery [Arrested Motion]
· Galleries Defend Controversial Bansky Show [ARTNET]
· Two Banksy Pieces From the West Bank Are Now For Sale in the Hamptons [New York Magazine]
· Keszler Gallery [Official Site]