Banksy caught in the graffiti act

Elusive artist Banksy caught in the graffiti act

HE’S SO ELUSIVE, even his agent claims never to have met him – but Banksy was yesterday caught in the act as he painted on an East London wall.

He was snapped by a passer-by extending double yellow lines from the road on to the side of a house to form a big yellow flower. Next to this, he stencilled in a man sitting on a tin of paint, holding a roller.

The mural, painted in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets, is thought to be a metaphorical two finger salute to the local council, who vowed to cleanse the borough of his graffiti.

Banksy, whose real name is thought to be Robert or Robin Banks, is known for his artistic pranks, which have included releasing an inflatable Guantanamo prisoner doll in Disneyland, and creating a Stonehenge-style circle out of portable toilets at this year’s Glastonbury; the British Museum also took eight days to realise that Banksyus Maximus, a rock depicting a Stone Age hunter with a shopping trolley, was not a genuine artefact.

Practical jokes aside, Banksy’s artwork sells for serious money, and he’s become a firm favourite with the Hollywood in-crowd. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly spent more than £1 million on his works at a sale at Lazarides gallery in Soho this month, while just last week, ten works fetched £500,000 at Bonhams, the West London auctioneers – £200,000 above the estimated price. The most expensive piece, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, showing two policemen looking through binoculars, fetched £96,000.

Gareth Williams, senior picture specialist at the auctioneers, said: ‘The most incredible aspect of the Banksy phenomenon is neither his meteoric rise nor the substantial sums of money that his art now commands but that, as a self-confessed guerrilla artist, he has been so wholeheartedly embraced by the very Establishment he satirises.’

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