Buy it or hate it, New Yorkers flock to Banksy's art

Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:07am EDT
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By Elizabeth Dilts

(Reuters) - Famously jaded New Yorkers are getting swept up in the hype over Banksy, the renegade graffiti artist who is leaving his mark across the city this month.

Known for his anti-authoritarian black-and-white stenciled images, which have sold at auction for upwards of $2 million, the British street artist is treating New Yorkers to a daily dose of spray-painted art - while eluding the police and incurring the wrath of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Graffiti does ruin people's property," Bloomberg said in a press conference Wednesday.

Reactions from other New Yorkers to the pieces - which appear overnight, usually on side streets in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn - have ranged from the defacing of images to offers of huge sums for walls Banksy has painted.

"Somebody offered me a million dollars if I took down the bricks," said Jose Goya, the manager of a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, building that Banksy spray-painted Wednesday night.

Goya turned the buyer down and had Plexiglas placed over the Japanese-themed image of a man and a woman crossing an arched bridge. The art has a black squiggle spray-painted over it, the work of an apparent Banksy hater who, according to Goya, was stopped mid-defacement by a group of men who tackled him.

The mysterious Banksy is calling his month in New York his "Better Out Than In" residency. Among his works so far: the image of a Ronald McDonald statue getting his red clown shoe shined, which appeared in the Bronx on Tuesday, and a livestock truck adorned with children's stuffed farm animal toys - a mobile installation Banksy calls "Sirens of the Lambs."

Every morning, he announces the location of each piece on his website and invites people to call a hotline for droll descriptions of the artwork's inspiration.   Continued...

A child poses for a photo under a new art piece by British graffiti artist Banksy in the Brooklyn borough of New York, October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri