Banksy: Spring Cleaning Crew Wipes Away $5 Million of Banksy Art

Spring Cleaning Banksy in Jamaica

Banksy was a guest at the posh Geejam Hotel in Jamaica before the hotel opened its doors in 2006. In typical Banksy fashion, he left his mark in and around the hotel, which is co-owned by his friend, British music executive Jon Baker.

Last week the hotel’s owners hired a crew to do some spring cleaning. Hotel guests like Grace Jones and the Rolling Stones may have appreciated Banksy’s art work, but the cleaning crew did not.

They were, reportedly, horrified when they learned that the “scrawls” they thought were done by uncivilized guests were works of art valued at £4 million, or roughly $5 million. Chances are good that Banksy will be invited back.

Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel: Great Art, Terrible Views

The Walled Off Hotel opened in Bethlehem on March 11. Banksy says the hotel “offers a warm welcome to people from all sides of the conflict and across the world”.

Banksy has been putting graffiti on the wall in the West Bank for years. “Actually, there were more Banksy tourists coming to Bethlehem than Nativity Church tourists,” said hotel manager Wisam Salsah, “We say more Banksy tourists than Jesus tourists.”

The hotel has ten rooms, each has a view of the concrete wall and is decorated with Banksy’s work, or the work of an artist that he commissioned.

There is a Presidential Suite that has a little theater, a bar and a jacuzzi which appears to be filled from a water tank riddled with bullet holes.

Budget accommodations are available for thirty dollars a night, furnished with surplus items from an Israeli military barracks. The price includes a bunk bed, locker, a shared bathroom and complimentary earplugs.

Banksy paid the installation costs and has handed it over to be run as a local business. Profits go back into local projects.

Banksy Prints and Drawings in Tauranga

On the other side of the world, in Tauranga, New Zealand, the Tauranga Street Art Festival, which runs through June 15, features, “the most extensive assembly of Banksy works in the Southern Hemisphere.”

That’s 22 works by Banksy, which were collected by George Shaw, one of the organizers of the exhibit at the Tauranga Art Gallery.

Tauranga is a pristine city, with a harbor, beaches and lush, green mountains. It is not known for its graffiti, but this festival will allow local artists to display their work and for visitors to see Banksy drawings and prints up close.

Banksy Prints at VFA

Banksy’s perseverance and intention to make the world a better place is apparent in his work. For more information about CND Soldiers and the other fine art prints available in our gallery, please come in or contact us.


Banksy Mocks the Mouse

Banksy has weighed in on the Syrian refugee crisis with a mural, as well as shelter, for refugees in Calais, France.

Banksy’s involvement began this past summer, when he took over an abandoned seaside resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK, and turned it into Dismaland, “The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction.”

Weston-super-Mare, in Somerset, on the Bristol Channel, is a town where Banksy enjoyed swimming in his younger days. After the city council of Weston agreed to let him use the building, Banksy reached out to other artists to help him fill the space.

One of the most interesting aspects of the exhibition, was that he invited many female artists to take part. “… this is not a street art show,” he said in a Juxtapoz interview, “There are women in it.”

Touted as a Bemusement Park, one of Dismaland’s un-winnable games was trying to steer boats of refugees to safety with an ineffectual steering wheel.

Fifty eight artists, from around the globe, were invited to participate in the not-really-for-kids theme park. More than 4,000 visitors a day, from all over the world, viewed the exhibit, which ran for five weeks during the summer.

Ticket sales were so brisk, that the Dismaland ticket website crashed on the first day of sales. There was some speculation that the crash was a hoax, part of the Dismaland experience.

Besides Banksy posters and prints for sale, there were t-shirts and mugs in the gift shop and even a small tool kit for opening poster frames at bus stops, in order to replace the existing advertisements with your own message and art work.

After the close of Dismaland, Banksy took lumber and fixtures from the dismantled park and shipped them to the Port of Calais, France. His crew built shelters for the refugees in the Calais camp. About 6,000 immigrants, many from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea, live in the camp that is, sadly, called The Jungle.

Banksy’s crew transported lumber and fixtures to help shelter refugees in Calais, France. He calls the project DismalAid.

In addition to the shelters, Banksy painted a mural of Apple founder, Steve Jobs, at the camp. Banksy accompanied the work with a rare public statement, to challenge the perception that immigrants are a drain on the economy:

We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant. Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over seven billion dollars a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.” —Banksy

Some enterprising refugees, whose tents are near the painting, have covered the work and are charging 5 euros to visitors who want to view the work.

There are a few ironies about the Steve Jobs image; although Jobs’ father was from Homs, Syria, Jobs was born in California and put up for adoption. He never got to know his father. Another irony is that Jobs was on the Walt Disney Board of Directors after Disney bought Pixar. Nevertheless, Banksy got his point across.

Banksy is one of our favorites at Vertu. It’s not easy to keep his art on our walls for long, but we do have Choose Your Weapon, Banksy’s homage to Keith Haring, in the gallery at this time.

Please contact us or, better still, come in for a visit, to see prints by Banksy and the other fine artists in our gallery.

Andy Warhol Lifesavers 1985 F&S II.353

What’s New At Vertu: The Smoker, Lifesavers, Chicken and Dumplings

Here’s a look at some of the latest acquisitions at the Vertu Fine Art Gallery.

Tom Wesselmann, The Smoker

The Smoker is an embossed lithograph that contains some of Tom Wesselmann’s favorite things … a graceful hand, with dark red fingernails, holding a cigarette, and smoke wafting from a pair of full, red lips.

A true Renaissance Man, Tom Wesselmann had a degree in Psychology and went to Cooper Union to study Fine Art. He became a consummate New Yorker who loved, and wrote, country music (his song, I Love Doing Texas With You was included in the Brokeback Mountain movie soundtrack). He wrote a book about himself called Wesselmann, using the pseudonym, Slim Stealingworth. In Wesselmann’s own words, he wrote (as Stealingworth), “Many critics have described Tom Wesselmann as the most underrated painter of the American Art world of the 1960’s.”

Andy Warhol, Vote McGovern, Chicken and dumplings, Lifesavers

During the contentious election of 1972, the country was in the throes of the Viet Nam war and the Civil Rights movement. Alabama Governor, George Wallace, declared himself to be a Democratic presidential candidate along with George McGovern. McGovern, of course, wound up running against Richard Nixon, and Warhol was asked to contribute to the McGovern campaign.

In typical Warhol style, he created a demonic image of Nixon, with the simple slogan, Vote McGovern below the maniacal face. Simple, subtle, powerful and so very Warhol. If only he were around for this election…  Also available in our gallery are Andy Warhol’s Chicken and dumplings and Lifesavers.

Roy Lichtenstein, Shipboard Girl

In the wake of his 1964 painting, Nurse, selling at Christie’s for $95.3 million a few weeks ago, Roy Lichtenstein’s artwork has become more desirable than ever. Created a year after Nurse, Shipboard Girl has the same mysterious and sensual feeling.

With no thought or speech bubble, it’s up to the viewer to imagine what is on Shipboard Girl’s mind. Maybe she’s thinking, “I’m getting a fine art print for Christmas. Maybe a Lichtenstein.”

Alex Katz, Red Hat Ada

Red Hat Ada is a recent work, a woodcut, of the muse (and wife) that Katz has been painting for more than fifty years.

Alex Katz is a big favorite at our gallery. His Late Summer Flowers silkscreen graces the cover of our eBook, How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints (your can download it, free, at our website).

Jeff Koons, Puppy Vase

The art of Jeff Koons isn’t always practical, but it’s always fun. His first Puppy sculpture was a 43-foot high topiary, installed on the terrace of Spain’s Guggenheim Museum, that supported about 60,000 flowers.

The Puppy Vase in our gallery is just 17 inches high. It can hold a bouquet of flowers and, unlike the original, doesn’t need to be tended to by a staff of gardeners.

Banksy, Choose Your Weapon

Banksy painted Choose Your Weapon on a London wall. No Timmy and Lassie here. The boy and his Keith Haring dog, in Choose Your Weapon, appear menacing and disenfranchised.

Banksy always gives his audience a lot to think about and Choose Your Weapon is no exception.

Kaws, You Should Know I Know

You Should Know I Know is the first screenprint that Kaws created this year.

Fans of Kaws (Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly) will recognize elements of his creation, Companion, the Mickey Mouse-like character that appears in many of his drawings, sculptures and even as a float in the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Please call, or visit the gallery, for more information about our new acquisitions or any of the art work we offer at Vertu.


Banksy Choose Your Weapon

Artists like Shepard Fairey: Rebels With & Without a Cause

Police in cities around the world still chase after graffiti artists for vandalizing property. Some of those artists are often commissioned, by the same authorities who considered them vandals, to paint public works in their cities. The work of the rebels in our gallery all have stories to tell, messages to pass along, and some of them have causes feel passionate about.

Shepard Fairey

In May, Shepard Fairey was commissioned by multimillionaire Dan Gilbert to paint a 185-foot mural on the side of the Quicken Loans headquarters building in Detroit. A few weeks later, Fairey was arrested by Detroit authorities for putting up posters in public spaces without permission. Fairey’s company, OBEY, supports Amnesty International and many other causes.

We have a number of Fairey’s serigraphs and an amazing OBEY Stratocaster in our gallery.


In May, over 250 graffiti artists were invited to paint murals in Bristol, England, where Banksy, as a young graffiti artist, was continually chased by the cops. In the past few years, Banksy has focused his attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the West Bank.

Keith Haring

Keith Haring used the proceeds from his work to increase AIDS awareness. Since his death, in 1990 from AIDs-related complications, the Keith Haring Foundation has continued to provide grants to children and those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Haring worked his unmistakable style, not just on walls, not just in prints, but also on ceramics.

We are fortunate to be able to offer Spirit of Art No. 2, a Ceramic Platter issued by Haring’s estate and A Piece of Art, a ceramic serving set, in its original box.

Space Invader

Two years ago, the French artist, Invader, placed his pixelated pieces all over Hong Kong, while being chased around by Hong Kong police.

This year, Invader was invited by Hong Kong officials to put his mosaic tiles back up. In our gallery, we have one of Invaders serigraphs, done for the Art Alliance/Provocateurs Show, hosted every year by Shepard Fairey.


Gilf! is all about inspiring people to be more mindful of the way they interact with their communities and with each other. Gilf! is based in Brooklyn. This year she made lots of waves when she installed a giant banner, reading Gentrification in Progress at a location in Queens that was once a haven for graffiti artists.

We have two works from her Empower series, Empower Piece and Empower Equality, and a more recent work – a 4-color silkscreen titled, To Tehran with Love.


Retna has used his unique alphabet from the streets of L.A. to the walls of Louis Vuitton. We have an untitled serigraph in our gallery that was done for Shepard Fairey’s Art Alliance/Provocateurs show in 2014.

Retna has been making more news in the tabloids than in the art world recently, because of his volatile relationship with Brittny Gastineau.


Though not a graffiti artist, we wanted to include L.A. artist PlasticGod in this group, since much of the proceeds from his work goes to numerous charities, like animal rights, cancer research and the Special Olympics. Also, anyone who thinks of combining Salvador Dali with Hello Kitty, gets a nod from us.

The work in our gallery is a serigraph with gold foil, called Oxymoron’s (Genuine Imitation). This nod to Andy Warhol is a bit ironic – the Warhol Gallery is where PlasticGod has exhibited his work.

To find out more about these artists, or any of the other artists in our gallery, please contact us or visit the gallery.

Banksy, the Greatest Living Briton

We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves. —Banksy”

“Sometimes I feel so sick at the state of the world,” Banksy wrote in his book, Wall and Piece, “I can’t even finish my second apple pie.” That pretty much reflects the work of Banksy: provocative, discomforting, funny and well-crafted.

Banksy is one of the most well-known artists in the world, yet most people don’t know who he is or what he looks like. What we know about Banksy is what he’s told us in his books, films, the few interviews he’s given and, of course, his art.

Banksy said that he began his career as a graffiti artist in Bristol, England, at around age 14. When he was about 18, he was part of Bristol’s DryBreadZ (DBZ) Crew., using the tag, Robin Banx. He said that he began using stencils when he and the crew were chased by police and he hid under a garbage truck. The large serial numbers stenciled under the truck gave him the idea of using stencils to speed up the painting process and decrease the risk of getting caught and avoiding arrest.

When Banksy moved to London in 1999, his work began to gain more attention and “Banksy sightings” became more frequent and talked about around the city. What is now known as the “Banksy Effect” – bringing street art into mainstream culture – began to take hold. As his fan base widened, so did the debate about art, property, social order and the value, both esthetic and monetary, of art and graffiti.

Banksy managed to prank major museums in 2003…and still remain anonymous. He walked into the Tate in London, dressed in a shabby coat and floppy hat, and taped his painting, Crimewatch UK Has Ruined the Countryside For All of Us, on to one of the gallery walls. It would have been the perfect crime, but the tape didn’t hold and the painting fell off the wall. Banksy also pranked the Louvre in Paris and the Met in New York.

In 2007, the town of Briton, where he had once been considered a vandal and had to run from police as a young graffiti artist, awarded Banksy the Greatest Living Briton award in the arts. (Banksy didn’t show up at the ceremony to claim his award. Queen Elizabeth won in the “People” category. Julie Andrews, Paul McCartney and Margaret Thatcher were also nominated.) Briton is now covered with outsider art, and actually encourages many of its young artists to paint murals on its buildings.

My lawyer calls me ‘the most infringed artist alive’ and wants me to do something about it. But if you’ve built a reputation on having a casual attitude towards property ownership, it seems a bit bad-mannered to kick off about copyright law.”

The 2010 Olympics inspired Banksy to put Olympic-themed works around London. His piece called Child Labor that depicts a child hunched over a sewing machine, sewing Union Jacks together, caused a lot of controversy and disappeared after the games. It turned up at a Miami auction, was pulled from the auction and was later sold for $1.1 million dollars.

“I don’t make as much money as people think.” Banksy said in an interview, “The commercial galleries that have held exhibitions of my paintings are nothing to do with me. And I certainly don’t see money from the T-shirts, mugs and greeting cards. My lawyer calls me ‘the most infringed artist alive’ and wants me to do something about it. But if you’ve built a reputation on having a casual attitude towards property ownership, it seems a bit bad-mannered to kick off about copyright law.”

TIME magazine named Banksy one of The 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010. Also on the list was Barak Obama, Steve Jobs and Jet Li. A photo of Banksy, with a paper bag over his head, was accompanied by a short tribute, written by Banksy’s friend and fellow street artist, Shepard Fairey (the artist who designed the 2008 Obama Hope poster). Fairey eloquently summed up the impact Banksy has had on the world:

“Many people recoil at the thought of a guy in a hoodie with a spray-paint can and something to say. Others foam at the mouth when they see the same guy’s artwork auctioned off for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Banksy just laughs at all of it. He has a gift: an ability to make almost anyone very uncomfortable. He doesn’t ignore boundaries; he crosses them to prove their irrelevance.

People usually see art as an abstract emotional vehicle, lacking the direct impact of language. Banksy paints over the line between aesthetics and language, then stealthily repaints it in the unlikeliest of places. His works, whether he stencils them on the streets, sells them in exhibitions or hangs them in museums on the sly, are filled with wit and metaphors that transcend language barriers.

Banksy’s work embodies everything I like about art. It’s accessible, public, not locked away. He makes social and political statements with a sense of humor. His latest exploit is Exit Through the Gift Shop, a film about a filmmaker who left off making a film about Banksy to become an art star himself. It sums up the art world perfectly — the authentic intertwined with the absurd.”

In 2013, Banksy named himself Artist in Residence of New York for a month and created a work of art, or a special event, every day for 31 days. One of his installations was a booth outside of Central Park, along Fifth Avenue, where he had a salesman sell his work for $60 a piece. The paintings and silkscreens, which would have sold for thousands of dollars in galleries and at auction, brought in a total of $420.

“We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles.” he said, “In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.”

So, who is Banksy? He (or she) may, or may not be, Robin Gunningham, a middle class kid who wore a grey blazer and striped tie to his private school in Bristol. Banksy says that his parents don’t know what he does, that he’s one of the most influential artists in the world. “They think I’m a painter and a decorator.” he said. Well … maybe he is.

See more work on Banksy’s website.

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