Secretive street mural artist Banksy has been unusually active over the past few months. With several new public art pieces, and several public statements on the artist’s thoughts about systemic racism and other human rights issues, Banksy’s name has been on many lips recently. Now, the artist and political activist has taken credit for another mural; this time on a home in Bristol, England. The owners of the home were in the process of selling their home for approximately $500K. However, after Banksy’s art popped up on the building overnight, it may be worth as much as $5M – and the owners are rethinking the sale.
Banksy Has Been Active This Year
The secretive mural artist has always been outspoken through their art on issues like inequality, racism, and other human rights concerns. This year, the artist has taken that passion a step farther, and their value has increased, making Banksy pieces even more desirable. ArtNews shares, “Banksy has revealed a flurry of new projects in recent months. The street artist has made headlines for painting a mural of a hula-hooping girl in Nottingham, England, funding a rescue boat intended to carry refugees across the Mediterranean Sea, weighing in on systemic racism, and covering a bathroom with his signature rat stencils. On the auction front, the artist’s painting Show Me the Monet (2005) sold for a whopping $9.8 million at Sotheby’s this fall.”
It’s unsurprising then, that Banksy’s new piece appears to be a commentary on the COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight, a mural appeared on a Bristol home that showed an elderly woman sneezing her dentures right out of her mouth. In the process of the sneeze, the woman’s cane and purse go flying. In an Instagram post on Thursday, the artist claimed credit for the piece by simply sharing a picture of it, and the title – Achoo!!.
Nikolas Makin, whose mother Aileen owns the home, says that they were in the process of selling the semi-detached home for $500K. The contracts would have exchanged next week. Makin says they have canceled the contract and will be taking time to ponder the sale. This is probably due largely to the fact that Banksy’s art has raised the value of the house, by a lot. The house may now be worth as much as $5 million, according to an art dealer who spoke with The Sun.
The Sun reports, “People flocked to see the artist’s latest work after it appeared yesterday on the corner of Vale Street and Park Street in Bristol.
Vale Street is famous for being one of the UK’s steepest roads.
Mr Makin, whose mother Aileen owns the property, told ITV News West Country people were gathering outside house last night while he slept to get a better peek at Aachoo!!.
He said that his mother had been quite distressed by the attention and that they will take some time to decide what to do next.
Mr Makin added that his stepbrother helped him place perspex over the artwork to keep it safe and that he will be speaking to security firms to work out how to protect the piece going forward.”
Banksy Pieces Make Bank
This isn’t the first time that Banksy’s art has changed the course of someone’s financial future significantly. Some of Banksy’s most haunting and most poignant pieces have sold for millions of dollars. Banksy’s art usually embraces a combination of the familiar and the jarring. In Show Me the Monet, for instance, Banksy recreated Claude Monet‘s famous Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lillies, but the modern artist added a twist. Two shopping carts are seen partially submerged in the bucolic scene, along with a traffic cone. Banksy’s intention was likely to draw attention to the way consumerism is destroying nature, making the familiar unrecognizable.
And per ArtBroker, in 2018 Banksy made a commentary about consumerism and love; “In October 2018, Banksy’s Girl With A Balloon went to auction at Sotheby’s. Just as the hammer came down at £1.04 million the painting began to self destruct, appearing to slip down inside the frame only to come out the other side in shreds, becoming a new work, Love Is In The Bin. The stunt was reported worldwide and Sotheby’s senior director Alex Branczik famously commented, ‘It appears we just got Banksy-ed’.”
The artist’s unusual style and refusal to shy away from society’s most pressing and corrosive issues has made them a pop culture hero. Although speculation is rampant as to who the artist actually is – for now, Banksy’s identity remains a secret.