New Yorkers who love a good bargain missed a golden opportunity Saturday, when the artist and provocateur Banksy, whose sly graffiti art adorns collectors' walls, opened a sidewalk kiosk in Central Park to sell his work for $60 apiece.
With original signed art works zip-tied to the wire walls of his kiosk, Banksy set up shop next to stenciled signs reading, "Spray Art" and $60." A video of the art sale shows the stall of Banksy's work being staffed by a gray-haired man who yawns as he sits in a chair, being ignored.
His first sale came hours after opening, when a woman bought two canvases for her children. She negotiated a 50 percent discount on the pieces, according to the website of the anonymous artist who has sought to keep his appearance and identity a secret.
The offerings included small and large canvases, including a version of "Love Is in the Air." A limited edition of that work sold for $249,000 at auction this summer.
One text-based canvas took the form of a message reading, "The key to making great art is all in the compositio" — the "n" was cut off, as the final word ran off the edge of the canvas.
A man who said he simply needed something to put on the walls in his new place bought four canvases. In total, Banksy took in $420 on the day.
At least two people who bought Banksy's art were planning to take their finds back home — to Chicago in one case, and New Zealand in another. They got hugs and, in one case, a kiss on the cheek from the man representing the world-famous artist, who is in New York for a month-long visit.
In a recent interview with the Village Voice conducted via email, Banksy described his motivations — or lack of them:
"I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached. There's no gallery show or book or film. It's pointless. Which hopefully means something."