The highly-publicized auction of an original Banksy work from his New York period -- with the proceeds going to charity -- fell apart at the last minute thanks to a shady buyer. But some scorned collectors who lost are raising new questions about the smoke and mirrors process through which the sale went down.
The anonymous street artist's month-long New York residency was filled with shady back-handed transactions. Some deals were orchestrated by Banksy himself for the good of the general public. Some deals were carried out by the general public, Banksy be damned.
But Banksy's most expensive New York piece is now shrouded in controversy. "The Banality of the Banality of Evil," sold for $615,000 at auction recently with all of the proceeds going to Housing Works, the New York-based charity. The painting's origin story was so quintessentially Banksy: he reportedly purchased a landscape painting from a Housing Works-run thrift shop, added a nazi to the painting's foreground and signed it. Now it was a Banksy original, worth potentially over half a million dollars. He gave the original work back to Housing Works through an anonymous broker, and informed the charity of what they truly possessed. The auction winner, known only as his screen name, "gorpetri," backed out before the sale could go through.