Banksy authentication

(photo - writers own)

an "unauthorised" banksy on city road (photo - writers own)

Artnet have a very interesting article on the companies formed around providing some credibility (note, not authenticity) around street art and more specifically Banksy’s work.

The first is Pest Control, which is loosely based around Lazarides gallery.

This in itself isn’t very surprising as it is the largest distributor of Banksy artwork and prints and owner Steve Lazarides is Banksy’s publicist.

What is surprising is they are only going as far as original artworks and prints and not to actual streetworks.

And this is where the second “entity”, Vermin is coming in to lend certification around street items. And it is bizarrely these items that could potentially retrieve the largest returns but which currently fetch relatively low amounts due to their uncertified nature.

And here is the secretive Vermin’s basis for their “professional opinion” not certification of authenticity:

“Anyone who has bought or collected street pieces in the past may send in the images, which will then be put in front of our board, formed of a panel of established Banksy dealers who have been dealing since the early days in secondary-market Banksy’s. We will then look at the piece from all angles, research it and, as long as each work is then assessed on its own merit, if sufficient criteria are met (through “time line” documentation, publications and photographic evidence), the work is placed on a “Salvaged + Saved” register for a period of one month, during which any counterclaims against the piece can be investigated. At the end of this period, if no valid counterclaim to ownership/authorship is revealed, the piece is issued with a “Vermin Certificate.” The register will be on an open resource website for other people and organizations to use in the future for both commercial and educational purposes.”

So what I found interesting about that is that if this service is generally accepted by the market as legitimate then building a market in “time-lining” of street art could prove useful to people with original works but not the documentary proof of history and location of the original.

Link

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8 Responses

  1. What a load of tosh – Pest Control for starters is not loosely based around Lazarides Gallery, it is based on the works of Banksy.

    There is and should be only one source for the authentication of Banksys’ works and that is the artist himself, which is exactly a function of Pest Control.

    Vermin is exactly what is it, a scavanger, looking for the loose crumbs to feed off, these dealers have accumalated pieces by hook or by crook and have hit brick walls because they are have been frustrated by the fact that these exact pieces they have in their possession havent received authentication – which in turns means no major returns. These exact dealers do not have Banksy’s interest at heart only lining their pockets and Vermin has been established to do exactly that. So please do not try and give Vermin any journalistic merit, or credibility, the market in the space of 12 hours has already spoken about what they think of Vermin, and if you dont know who the market is, it is the people who own the art outside of these dealers. These people know who and where to get true authentication, and it certainly isnt a “panel of established Banksy dealers who have been dealing since the early days in secondary-market Banksy’s’. It is from the artist ditrect, and that is Pest Control.

    Leave streetpieces where they belong – on the streets!!!

  2. Alsabar is so right. ‘Vermin’ is an unofficial ‘board’ set up to line their own pockets by ‘authenticating’ what they believe to be Banksy pieces based on what they’ve seen in books. I’ve got a book about Damien Hirst (another living artist) – does that make me qualified to authenticate and pass off his work? No, because the correct process is to ask the people authorised and sanctioned by the artist. Vermin are just parasites trying to make a fast buck. If they are a commitee of established experts and art dealers why don’t they name themselves?… they have no links with the artist after all.

  3. I don’t know who Vermin is or are, And it does concern me that in the interview the Vermin spokesperson states that all Banksy street pieces are “fair game”. That they will “authenticate” anything sent to them, so if I chipped out the brick from the building that the photo is taken of that would be ok?
    Because it isn’t.
    But it’s also naïve to think that none of his streetworks should have an authorised value when his original artworks are commanding such high prices. And im not talking about paintings on walls etc but there are other streetworks that I’ve seen which could accrue value like the rat on the bollard and newspaper stand.

    But the oddest thing about Vermin is, as you point out, their anonymity. The very basis for giving credible providence and respected valuations is your position in the community and the credibility that your opinion conveys.
    Hard, if no one knows who you are.

  4. I don’t agree with the feedback so far. Banksy is primarily known for his street art, right?! Ok, so if he sprays something up on someone else’s property and that person then decides to remove the work to keep it safe or even sell it, is this acceptable? of course it is! And another original Banksy street work has been saved for posterity.. where are all his original pieces now?… gone! Because councils and property owners have cleaned them off or painted over them. Many have been preserved for posterity in photographic form but then there’s nothing like the real thing. I don’t think that the lengths some people are prepared to go to to remove Banksy’s work and profit from it are morally correct, (I wouldn’t do it) but then at the end of the day what Banksy is doing isn’t exactly legal is it. I know for a fact PestControl pick and choose what they want to authenticate and that is not correct….. if they could be honest about it instead of denying work out of principal then there wouldn’t need to be a separate body of authentication.

  5. Exactly. Pest Control claim to represent Banksy and yet refuse to authenticate his street pieces his most important body of work on the basis that Banksy claims once its removed that it is no longer art. They are happy to authenticate commercially produced prints presumably because they are art. Until pest control come to their senses then a board like Vermin is going to be needed

  6. I think this is more to do with the intellectual property rights that all other artists have over their works. Street art (executed on the streets) is really questioning the boundaries of ownership rights. If I happened to find a discarded Hirst drawing in a bin somewhere, then tried to sell it on, legally Damien Hirst would have the right to deny that it was his on the basis that it may be damaging to his reputation (as all artists depend on their reputations, this factor being a clause in Copyright law).
    Furthermore, removing a piece of wall obviously removes the image from it’s intended environment and, arguably, distorts its meaning. Any artist can exert their authenticity rights within this statute since it infringes on their intellectual property rights and their reputation… seems to me that is the underlying purpose of Pest Control, and is exactly why Vermin does not have much of a leg to stand on.

    (ps. Of course Pest Control would never authenticate Banksy’s street works- they are still seen as being illegal, after all.)

  7. […] Banksy authentication September 2008 6 comments 4 […]

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