* "Unauthorised Retrospective" shows some 70 Banksy works
* "Last thing he'd want to see", show curator says
* Some items that sold for 100 pounds now worth 1 million
By Rollo Ross
LONDON, June 6 Secretive British street artist
Banksy often paints on walls at night and has complained when
people remove and re-sell his works, so he is sure to be
infuriated by Sotheby's offering of about 70 items for "private
sale" in London.
Dubbed "The Unauthorised Retrospective" and curated by Steve
Lazarides, a street-art promoter and Banksy's former agent, the
London show includes sculptures, oils, and prints - all of which
are said to have increased enormously in value in a few years.
"I think for him it's probably the last thing in the world
he'd ever want to see," Lazarides told Reuters at a press
preview of the exhibition on Friday.
"It's an unauthorised exhibition - he has nothing to do with
it apart from the fact he painted all the paintings, of
course. For him - I don't know - I think it's interesting to get
all the works together. It will probably mean more commercially
than it will mean anything else."
Sotheby's officials at the preview in the Sotheby's S2
gallery declined to share a price list with a reporter who asked
for it, but a brochure that was handed out said: "The works on
display in S2 are available for private sale, offering an
exciting new dimension to the Sotheby's experience."
"Some of these pieces when they were originally sold were 50
to 100 pounds and now some of them are half a million to a
million pounds so it would be very interesting to see the
difference in people's reactions from when they cost that much
to when they cost this much, so we'll see," Lazarides said.
The gallery show is not the first unauthorised exhibition
and sale of Banksy's work. In April the ME Hotel in London held
the "Stealing Banksy?" exhibition.
In response, a message appeared on Banksy's website saying
"Banksy would like to make it clear - this show has nothing to
do with me and I think it's disgusting people are allowed to go
displaying art on walls without getting permission."
As of late on Friday, there was no apparent reaction from
Banksy to the Sotheby's show on his website www.banksy.co.uk,
which showed only a livestock truck stuffed with the heads of
cartoon-style animals popping out through openings.
For the show, the gallery walls have been spray-painted red
and black using a fire extinguisher, "picking the true vandal's
weapon of choice", as Lazarides put it, to create a background
that fits the work.
Pieces still being installed during the preview included
Andy Warhol-esque pictures which feature - and are signed by -
model Kate Moss and the Banksy classic "Pulp Fiction" featuring
John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson carrying bananas instead of
Sotheby's first got involved with Banksy when the auction
house sold one of his prints back in 2004. Now they are selling
off these pieces to collectors at even greater prices.
"The market has embraced Banksy very quickly and probably in
many ways it's quite shocking for him too," said Sheyenne
Westphal, the Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby's.
"There's a print downstairs that says 'You morons, buy
this...' and I think there was a shock for him that his prices
on the secondary market shot up as they did. But the truth is a
lot of collectors want to own a piece by Banksy and when you're
here in this room, you understand why," said Westphal.
The exhibition, which features never-before-seen works of
art, will be open to the public from June 11 until July 25.
(Editing by Michael Roddy and Gareth Jones)