A Banksy Story

A few years ago our customer, a retired lecturer and avid collector of modern works of art, called us to report his claim. He had three limited edition prints, one by Damien Hirst and two by Banksy that had been accidentally damaged. He had always kept the prints tubed and stored under his bed but one day decided to have them framed. He then accidentally fell down the staircase carrying the prints and this resulted in damage by creasing to the structure of the fine paper that held the screen print.

We went to see the customer soon after his call and arranged for our expert art consultants to attend and collect the prints, so that the prospects of restoration could be considered and value could be explored.

The customer had purchased the prints at competitive prices and after some investigation we were able to agree an overall claims settlement figure for the three prints that the customer was happy with. This figure was based on the advice we had received and that there were little prospects of restoring the prints to a condition that would give any encouragement for a worthwhile sale at that time.

Not long after the settlement was agreed, our customer contacted us again to say that he had been approached by the Metropolitan Police in connection with the prosecution of a forger of Damien Hirst’s art by the New York City Attorney’s Department. Subsequently we approached the official authentication body for Damien Hirst. They examined the print of the iconic work entitled “LSD” and condemned it as a fake and stamped it as such. Nonetheless, although disappointed, we had the prints framed and hung it in one of our meeting rooms along with a suitable note explaining the history of the prints.

As part of this investigation, our attention also focussed on the validity of the Banksy prints that we had settled for £8,000. These certainly looked ‘right’ and we had been able to obtain certificates of authenticity from our customer for them at the time, but we were aware that these certificates are often forged as well, and given our experience with the Damien Hirst print, we were feeling apprehensive. There is much reported press about the trade in fake prints of such a popular artist.

However, in 2017 following a discussion with a dealer in Banksy art, we approached the official authenticating body for Banksy, “The Pest Control Office”. They were not interested in authenticating the prints because of the damage but they were able to provide information about the provenance of the prints that encouraged our view that they may indeed be genuine – one entitled “I fought the law and I won” being signed by the artist.   

After extensive research, renewed appraisals and examinations it was agreed to have the prints professionally restored by a leading paper conservator and then correctly reframed. Due to the current popularity with the artist, “Banksy Mania” and the infamous shredding of “The Girl with Balloon” after the hammer fell at £1.04M at Sotheby's sale in London on 5 October we took expert advice and decided to place our Banksy prints in to the best auction to achieve the highest price. We're delighted that they managed to find a new home at auction and we were able to recover the initial claims cost too!

 

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