In Brief

Buy a Banksy Online, Weird Restrictions Apply

Prices are affordable in the artist’s new digital shop, but that doesn’t mean the products will be easy to purchase.

Screenshot of Banksy’s “Shredded Tee” (on sale for about $38.50) on the artist’s online shop Gross Domestic Product (courtesy of Gross Domestic Product)

Banksy strikes again, this time with an online store. Days after he dismantled his short-lived south London brick-and-mortar Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the artist is venturing into virtual sales. But since it’s Banksy we’re talking about, this won’t be your average digital retailer.

The online version of GDP, with the addition of the tag line “Solutions for Wealth,” offers a limited supply of affordable Banksy-branded items. A mug will cost you £10.00 (~$12.80); a clock with a running rat that recreates this 2018 street clock in 14th Street in New York sells for £500 (~$642); the stab-proof vest that was worn by British rapper Stormzy during the last Glastonbury music festival goes for £850 (~$1,092); and a half-shredded T-shirt featuring “Girl With Balloon” (2006) is on sale for just £30 (~$38.50). The shredded shirt is “the same played-out old image, this time attacked with a knife by the artist,” the website explains, referring to the artist’s shredding stunt during a Sotheby’s London auction sale of the painting in October of last year. The half-shredded painting, which was renamed “Love Is in the Bin” (2018), sold for $1.3 million.

There are some caveats, however. You’re wrong if you think you can just log in and purchase the items as you would in a normal online shop. “You are advised that GDP may prove to be a disappointing retail experience,” a disclaimer page that welcomes shoppers reads, “especially if you’re successful in making a purchase.”

A Banksy mug for about $12.80. But don’t think it will be easy to get it (courtesy of Gross Domestic Product)

Shopping on the site comes with a series of restrictions in order to allow people other than seasoned collectors to get hold of the products. “Please refrain from registering at this time if you are a wealthy art collector,” the website warns.

First, users are allowed to buy only one item. Second, it’s not a first-come-first-serve operation. Shoppers must earn the right to purchase a product by convincingly answering the question “Why does art matter?” (strikeout Banksy’s) in 50 words or less. “Prove that you’re not a robot (and a half decent human being),” the website says. The fine print in the website’s terms and conditions says that a professional stand-up comedian will examine the tie-breaker questions and will independently select responses which he deems “most apt and original.”

About two weeks ago, Banksy’s “Devolved Parliament” (2009) sold for a stupendous $12.1 million, shattering the artist’s previous record $1.87 million (“Keep It Spotless,” 2007).

Shoppers who are interested in Banksy’s new offerings have until October 28 to browse the website and state their interest in buying a product. Successful applicants will be notified by email within two weeks of submission. Good luck if you’re a fan.

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