10 Works of Street Art That Went Commercial

Street art purists grumbled this week when the Sincura Group, a concierge company in London, held a members-only event to exhibit Slave Labour, a spray painting by the artist Banksy, which was eventually sold for more than £750,000 ($1.1 million). In an expression of self-assurance that bordered on defensiveness, Sincura’s director told Bloomberg that this was mission accomplished.

We know the sale of this Banksy has caused great controversy,” he said, referring to the people who lived in Wood Green, London, where the mural first appeared, and who wanted the artwork back. “We’ve done our due diligence and there is no legal issue.” 

The sale was a reminder that even as the debates continue — over street art’s legitimacy as an art form and to whom it rightly belongs — prices for the good stuff are only going up.

This is certainly true for Banksy, probably the highest-earning street artist alive. The sale of Slave Labour is dwarfed by the performance of Keep It Spotless, a defaced “spot painting” by Damien Hirst, which sold at Sotheby’s New York in February 2008 for $1,870,000.

Banksy, Keep It Spotless, 2007. Household gloss and spray paint on canvas.
84 1/4 x 120 1/8 in.ᅠ

[Image via Flickr]