An anonymous eBay seller quickly attracted bids of up to $1 million with a seemingly insubstantial item: A slip of paper that promised to reveal the real name of the mischievous British street artist known as Banksy. The auction was pulled off the site on the eve of the its close, leaving observers wondering if Banksy himself — renowned for his stenciled grafitti work and a controversial intro he created for "The Simpsons" last year — devised the "sale" as a hoax. The seller, known only as "jaybuysthings," claimed he'd uncovered the artist's real identity through tax records. Was this just another Banksy prank?
It certainly smells like the work of Banksy: Given that Banksy has a "penchant for pulling fast ones on the public," says David Ng at the Los Angeles Times, it seems likely this auction is an "elaborate prank executed in the name of publicity." After all, his 2010 documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop — itself suspected to be a "feature-length prank of enigmatic provenance" — is up for a host of awards. Such a stunt would help "keep Banksy in the news," and in the minds of awards voters.
"Banksy identity auction removed from eBay — was it a hoax?"
The eBay auction seems legit: Although the prank explanation would "come as no surprise," says Tim Reeves at Moviefone, the eBay user known as "jaybuysthings" seems to be "above board." Bloggers have discovered that he has an eBay selling record "that dates back to 2001." The site only removed the auction because its administrators didn't consider the revelation of an identity a tangible good you could sell.
"Banksy's real identity almost sold on eBay for $1 million"
Banksy is testing the market for a true reveal: I think Banksy might be carrying out a dry run of his "retirement plan," says Y M Ousley at Signature 9. Don't you think it's a "pretty ingenious way to test the market for the value of a piece of 'art'" the rest of us give away for free? "Around the world, hundreds of graffiti artists just went, 'why didn't I think of that?'"
"The million dollar art of the reveal"