Fine Art Auctions Miami, the auction house that almost sold Banksy’s “Slave Labour” and “Wet Dog” pieces in 2013, is back at trying to sell street pieces. This time though, it’s not just Banksy’s whose street art and murals that they’ve put on offer. In an auction that took place this evening, FAAM have included cut up segments of concrete and metal that were removed from the street and contain what were once works by Banksy, Faile, Kenny Scharf, Bambi, Aiko and Terror161/J.SON. I say that these chunks of the street include what were once street pieces by those artists because the pieces have been removed from the street, destroying the context of the work. Kind of selling a ripped apart corner of the Mona Lisa. In Bambi’s case, it appears that she has given permission for the work to be removed and sold, so maybe that’s still her artwork. J.SON was unaware of the sale of the piece of metal containing his former artwork, but I do not have comments from the other artists, though I find it highly unlikely that they approved of the removal of those wall segments or this auction. Yesterday, Caroline posted an interview with FAAM’s resident street art expert, and today we have the auction results…
Below, I’ve got coverage of the street pieces that were up for sale, but it wasn’t just street pieces for sale. If you want to see more highlights, I was live tweeting the auction, so you can read some of the other results on my twitter or here.
Bambi’s wall sold for $30,000! Why? No justifiable reason except that the proceeds did go to the Arts and Business Council of Miami. Who is Bambi? Some misinformed people have labeled Bambi the female Banksy. Really, she’s some UK artist who can barely cut a stencil but shows in wealthy parts of London and sells work to people with more money than sense. Also, she got a shout out/subtle slam in one of Banksy’s Better Out Than In audio guides, where the narrator mistakenly states, “This fully mobile, diesel-powered landscape is brought to you by the British graffiti artist Bambi.” So, claim to fame? Being dissed by Banksy.
The walls with work formerly by Banksy didn’t do as well as FAAM had hoped.
The “Kissing Coppers” piece sold for $578,500, but that was still below the low estimate before you factor in the buyer’s premium (auctions are funny, the price you bid is actually about 25% lower than the price you pay due to the “buyer’s premium” that gets tacked on afterwards). The estimate was $500,000-700,000, but the “hammer price” (the price before the buyer’s premium) was $480,000. The piece was originally a Banksy piece on the wall of a pub in England.
The other two street pieces formerly by Banksy, both painted during his Better Out Than In residency in NYC last fall, did not sell. There were bids, but neither piece reached the secret reserve price set by the seller and the auction house. Bidding for “Crazy Horse Car Door,” a small segment of this piece, reached $145,000, but stopped there. The estimate on that piece was $200,000-300,000. So that abomination is still available. So is the “Bandaged Heart Balloon” that FAAM estimated would go for $400,000-600,000. Bids for that slab of concrete reached $250,000.
On a personal level, I’m particularly frustrated to see that car door piece included in the sale. About a day before that door was removed from the street, I hopped the fence and removed a sticker from it so that fans could take their photos without some spot-jocker’s sticker obscuring Banksy’s piece. Hindsight being 20/20, maybe I should have broken the windows instead.
The auction also included… A segment of a security gate from NYC painted by Kenny Scharf, a metal gate painted by Aiko and J.SON in Miami, four chunks of metal featuring stencils by Faile that were painted in Berlin. The security gate with Scharf’s characters on reached a bit of $7,500, but failed to sell or reach its estimate of $10,000-15,000. Same goes for the slice out of Aiko and J.SON’s work, which reached bids of $35,000 and had an estimate of $60,000-80,000.
Those four hunks of metal containing Faile stencils did sell though. They went for $10,625, $13,750, and two for $15,000 each. Personally, even if those pieces were authenticated and from Faile’s studio, I would rather buy a fantastic and complex Faile print for much less than $10,000.
Over the last year, I’ve almost become used to the idea of Banksy’s street pieces being taken off the street and sold. I don’t like it, but it’s a fact of life. But I’m shocked that so many pieces by so many other street artists are now being ripped from public spaces and sold into private hands. I’ve never seen an auction quite like this.
The real kick in the nuts was from FAAM’s PR person (from Carma PR). These street pieces were on display in Miami last weekend, and the PR rep explained to me that allowing people to visit these public works indoors from 9-5 for a few days was “part of a celebration of street art.” Celebration my ass.