Banksy Prints Fail to Sell04.6.09   |   Posted in: Art & Design   |   By: Toshi Jones
Tags: Banksy, Bonhams' Urban Art Sale, Mr. Brainwash, Street Art
On February 24, 2009 a set of 20 limited edition Bansky prints were put up for auction at Bonhams’ Urban Art Sale in London. The prints, originally produced in 2006, feature a Warhol-esque Kate Moss. Expected to retrieve up to Â£150,000 ($222,000 USD), the work failed to sell. This was a shock, as one of the very same prints sold at Bonham’s for Â£96,000 just a year ago. It is difficult to say if this is a reflection of the state of the UK economy or of Banksy’s appeal.
It is rumored that Banksy, in an effort to prove his work could transcend the Banksy brand name, staged the June 2008 “Life is Beautiful” show in Los Angeles under the guise Mr. Brainwash. Jam packed with prints and installations, many of which referenced Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe pieces, the show drew an estimated 5,000+ eager fans on opening night. Each anxious to get a glimpse of the masses of work steeped in controversy and marred by rumors. Some suggested that Thierry Guetta, a.k.a Mr. Brainwash, was a hired proxy in the Banksy prank.
What is obvious is that the MBW and Banksy sets are drawn from the same cloth. The recent Banksy re-release is a sobering reminder that controversy may not be enough to drive value and demand for his work.