Rumors swirled yesterday that bluechip street artist Banksy had been pinched by the po-po, based on this October 23 message on the artist’s website:
But today, a new work surfaced on the Hustler building, the 24th piece in Banksy’s month-long NYC residency “Better Out Than In” which has featured a piece a new piece of art a day. The Gothamist reports:
NYPD spokesman tells us that no one was arrested for anything involving graffiti in the 79th [precinct], and specifically stated that Banksy was not arrested.
Consider Banksy’s message a piece of performance art.
Last week NYC’s billionaire mayor Buzzkill Bloomberg, a heavy donor to New York art institutions, was upset over Banksy’s cheekily using the city as his canvas.
Nobody’s a bigger supporter of the arts than I am. I just think there are some places for art and some places where – no art. You running up to somebody’s property or public property and defacing it is not my definition of art. Or it may be art, but it should not be permitted. And I think that’s exactly what the law says.
Actually Bloomberg’s definition of art and his understanding of New York City’s graffiti laws are both a little off. According to retired NYPD officer Steve Mona who worked with on city’s Vandal Squad:
Unless he’s done something on city property or one of the owners files a complaint, then there hasn’t been a crime committed. Because graffiti is an art form, what makes it a crime is whether the person had permission to do it to the property that they did it to. So if I walk up to your house and break your window because you said to me, ‘Hey Steve, break my window,’ I can’t be arrested for criminal mischief because you gave me permission to break your window, it’s the same with graffiti it’s no different. As long as no owner complains or Banksy does [something to] a city property, which the mayor does have direct control over, then there’s no crime.
And you can bet Bloomberg’s all RAAAAAAGE! that he didn’t score an original signed Banksy for $60 in Central Park a couple weeks ago.
Meanwhile Los Angeles–which recently passed a new murals ordinance which makes street art legal if you pay for a permit, get permission from the location, and publicly post your intentions–is anticipating a Banksy visit in December. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be paying much attention to the new mural rules. Especially since the Banksylax website is