NEW YORK, NY — The famously anonymous British graffiti artist Banksy, whose work regularly commands six figures in art auctions, says he had a hard time moving his spray-painted canvases in New York’s Central Park.
Banksy, whose work began popping up on New York walls this month, posted a video on his website showing an elderly man — not the artist — working at a stall at the park on Sunday. The selling price for each piece: $60.
The man sat, as people passed by the paintings with barely a glance.
According to the video, more than four hours passed before the first sale was made, to a customer who bargained to get two paintings for $60.
Later, a woman from New Zealand bought two at full price, the video says.
Then a man from Chicago stopped and said, “I just need something for the walls” of his new house. He bought four more, Banksy’s video says.
The total take for eight paintings: $420.
The artist says he’s on a “residency on the streets of New York.”
His website shows photos of a truck he parked in various places around New York after painting the interior with a garden scene.
Paintings on New York walls include one of a dog urinating on a fire hydrant, with a cartoon bubble that says, “You complete me.”
Banksy never shows his face. He even asked for permission to wear a disguise to the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony when his documentary film, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” was nominated. The academy said no, so he didn’t attend (as far as we know). He did not win the Oscar.
Devoted fans race to find his latest work in Britain, and the phenomenon moved to New York this month. Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert went so far as to broadly hint that he’d like for a Banksy work to show up on his studio wall.
But don’t look for him in Central Park.
His website said, “Please note: This was a one off. The stall will not be there again today.”
Art fans lament
Fans outside Banksy’s latest installment Monday lamented their missed opportunities to get their hands on an original canvas during the artist’s Central Park sale.
“I’m really annoyed that I wasn’t there to get one. It’s just genius,” said Bea McMonagle who brought her 1-year-old daughter Isa with her to see the newest creation.
McMonagle, who lives in Brooklyn, has been following the succession of Banksy works around the city. “It’s really bringing people together. I recognize people from the crowd that have been at other installations. It’s kind of neat,” she said.
Jackie Hadel crouched on the ground with her iPad and said she keeps a blog with all the works she has spotted around New York since the launch of the “Better Out Than In” street show.
“I was over on Ludlow the other day and I snapped a picture of a guy leaning against a wall and I posted it on my blog and then a little while later an artist contacted me privately and said, ‘Do you realize that’s Banksy?’ Swear!” she said.
Hadel, however, recognizes that the artist shrouds his identity in complete secrecy. “But there’s no proof of it. Nobody’s gonna call it out. No one wants to acknowledge that that could be,” she said.
“As long as he’s anonymous he’s going to keep making these incredible pieces for the rest of the month,” she said. “It shouldn’t be about chasing him as much as just chasing his murals and chasing his ideas.”
S.M. Kamruzzaman lives across the street from the wall where the mural appeared.
His opinion on the graffiti?
“Very fantastic. This artist is very nice. Everybody likes this one,” he said, smiling.
By David Simpson
CNN’s Elizabeth Landers contributed to this report.
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