On 27 April 2007, a new record high for the sale of Banksy's work was set with the auction of the work Space Girl and Bird fetching £288,000 (US$576,000) around 20 times the estimate at Bonhams of London. On 21 May 2007 Banksy gained the award for Art's Greatest living Briton. Banksy, as expected, did not turn up to collect his award and continued with his anonymous status. On 4 June 2007, it was reported that Banksy's The Drinker had been stolen. In October 2007, most of his works offered for sale at Bonhams auction house in London sold for more than twice their reserve price.
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He has become a brand in himself and for some younger graffiti writers Banksy is fair game. The mischievous, anonymous outsider taking shots at the establishment is now a part of Britain's art scene. Councils are quick to restore and protect works that previously they would have scrubbed away as vandalism. He has kept his identity secret for years and built a cult around his name. He still manages to walk the tightrope between maverick and mainstream but how long can he maintain that position?
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Artwork description & Analysis: This work, now covered and protected by a Perspex overlay, features a man dressed up in what we associate with traditional riot gear, with a bandana obscuring his face, and his cap on back-to-front. His stance is one of a person about to lob a Molotov cocktail; he's taking aim and is ready to throw his weapon. However, instead of a weapon, he holds a bunch of flowers (which are the only part of the mural to appear in color.) This piece is located on a wall on the side of a garage in Jerusalem on the main road to Beit Sahour, Bethlehem.
There exists a cult-like following for the artist. The ambiguity of his identity has drawn this group of followers. A concept, the "Banksy effect" has developed as a result of Banksy's artistic innovation. This term is in reference to the artist's ability to turn outsider art into the cultural mainstream. It was coined to reference the way in which Banksy's work has led to an increased interest in street art. Street art has been incorporated into being a part of culture and daily life. His work in turn, has questioned the authenticity of art and its creators, furthering the cultural debate that has existed for centuries.
By substituting a weapon with a bunch of flowers, Banksy is advocating peace instead of war, and he opted to install this message of peace in a high-conflict area. The work also carries the message that peace comes with active hard work. The bouquet of flowers in this work, in addition to symbolizing peace, life, and love, may also be understood as commemorating lost lives in an age old religious conflict. It is a fine example of Banksy's use of art to relay messages of social importance.
I wasn’t told when it would happen, but then the next day people started calling, saying, “Have you seen what’s on your building?” There was this giant mural. Looters isn’t subtle [it depicts two National Guards taking a TV out of a window]. There were reports of looting after Hurricane Katrina and Gustav and he’s obviously channelled that into his wry contempt for authority.
There exists a debate about the influence behind his work. Some critics claim Banksy was influenced by musician and graffiti artist 3D. Another source credits the artist's work to resemble that of French graffiti artist called Blek le Rat. It is said that Banksy was inspired by their use of stencils, later taking this visual style and transforming it through modern political and social pieces.