If Banksy is a brand, this has been a hell of a month for its marketing department. His recent tour de force around New York has caused a ruckus around the city, sparking a mini economy in its wake. Worldwide, people have been known to break down actual walls wherever a new Banksy piece shows up, selling off the chiseled-off chunks. It's even set off a few international investigation regarding to whom the art actually belongs: the public, or the owner of the property on which the Banksy appeared?
But for all the money that can be made, some of the recipients of these masterpieces might see the mania as more of a nuisance.
Enter Cara Tabachnik and her family’s building in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In a recent piece she wrote for New York Magazine, she chronicles the madness ensuing after Banksy got to her walls.
She first learned of the unwanted art in a phone call from her father. The strategy turned first from, “Don’t tell people who you are," to “They’ll try and kill you,” to, “Put up Plexiglas.”
A prosecutor told Tabachnik that the city has a duty to protect the art, and that she should call the police and the local councilman. The calls went unanswered, and she realized it would ultimately be up to her to decide what to do.
By early the next morning, she estimated at least 500 people were outside, and increasingly getting unruly. At one point, a local graffiti artist tried to paint it over, with the crowd threatening to attack him. Since then, the Tabachnik family has had to hire security guards and has begun consulting with preservationists about how to move forward.
Before Banksy “dropped his work in [her] life," Tabachnik says that she was following the phenomenon with mild interest, and that her husband was a fan. But now as she finds herself the unwilling protector of a public piece of art, the perks of getting "Banksied" are being put to the test.
As Tabachnik told NPR on Wednesday, “It leaves us in a sticky place…. He's putting artwork on our wall that now we're expected either to protect or let it be destroyed, and we can't sell it. And we don't necessarily want to sell it; we don't know yet.”
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.