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Original Banksy Worth $100K Is Being Sold Alongside 299 Fake Replicas for $500 Each in Art Stunt

AI Generated Image of a Banksy Print

Photo: AI-generated via 123RF (Not a photo of the actual print.)

What gives a piece of art its value? Is it the originality? Is it the concept? An artist, a curator, and a Banksy enthusiast are seeking answers to these questions with their project, The Missing Balloon. The collective purchased an original Banksy print for around $97,000. They then replicated it 299 times and are selling them all for $500 apiece. That means 299 people will receive a copy, but one will receive an original Banksy. The only catch is that there is no way to tell what's original and what's not.

The experiment is similar to that of Museum of Forgeries, which has created copies of original Warhols and Picassos. By erasing the number on the original Banksy and locking down the Certificate of Authenticity, the group has made spotting the original very difficult. In fact, they say that they worked on the reproduction until the curator in the group was no longer able to tell the difference between the replica and the true Banksy.

“By replicating the print and concealing the provenance, all 300 prints are rendered equal,” writes the group. “Any of the 300 people could have the initial original, but there is no way to tell. Which begs the question, are they ALL by Banksy or is NONE by Banksy?”

The group also claims that the stunt will reveal the “pretentious hypocrisy” of the art world and will allow them to discover whether or not wealthy collectors only care about provenance and market value.

Of course, users on Reddit point out that the group also has much to gain monetarily in the experiment. If they sell out completely, they'll take in $150,000. And while they need to subtract the price of the original Banksy and the printing costs, they still stand to earn quite a bit.

Whether you believe the collective's stated mission or think it's a money grab, the results will be intriguing. If you are interested in participating in the sale, the website has a place to enter your email address.

The Missing Balloon: Website
h/t: [Reddit]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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