The Daily Planet

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BANKSY IN MIAMI

Since 2002, Art Basel’s annual visit to Miami sets the stage for artists, and while some are invited and renowned, others usurp their way into the spotlight.

Every December, Art Basel Miami Beach and countless satellite fairs pop up all over the magic city. From the tourist filled streets of Miami Beach where art comes to visit, to Wynwood where art lives and shows off its local flair.

Over the past eight years Wynwood has transformed from an abandoned warehouse district into the cultural hub for art scenesters. The Wynwood Art Walk brings thousands into the area every second Saturday with the lure of food trucks and a street party that promises to be interesting.

Concurrent with Art Basel’s five-day fair, Wynwood turns into a five-day street party and illegality ensues. There is no violent crime or rampant drug abuse, for the street remains surprisingly peaceful considering the large crowds and alcohol.

Crime comes in the form of artistic vandals who take advantage of the let-it-be attitude and “bomb” on any blank wall space they find, with or without permission. Perhaps the cops believe most of them have been commissioned or that it is part of the cultural event. Either way, it’s a free for all, and Wynwood is only more colorful because of it.

Art collectors looking for the next emerging artist or a more down-to-earth experience with art in the city go to Wynwood, as street art makes its way into fine art galleries.

The 23rd edition of Art Miami, a modern and contemporary art fair with international galleries, expanded by adding a new fair, CONTEXT, directly adjacent to Art Miami.

The most valuable pieces at the fair were done by the anonymous guerilla artist Banksy, but are not for sale. They are actually five huge pieces of concrete or stucco wall, that together weigh around six tons, removed and restored from their original locations in Bethlehem, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Brighton, England.

Banksy is best know for his witty but illegal stencil art that has garnered him fame around the world while his identity remains unknown to his fans. He has sold his silkscreen prints in the mid six figures to stars like Christina Aguilera and Angelina Jolie according to various news outlets.

With the rise in the popularity of street art comes the debate. Is street art taken out of context when it is moved and sold in art galleries?

Banksy seems to thinks so, and Pest Control, who is in charge of validating whether the work is genuine, refuses to do so for the wall pieces featured at Context/Art Miami.

Pest Control told Artnet, an online international market watchdog, that it has not authenticated any of the Banksy Street Art works in the exhibition. As a rule, Pest Control refuses to evaluate any Banksy works that have been “removed from their original context.”

Robin Barton and Stephan Keszler the men behind the galleries who acquired the work claim that they are doing Banksy a favor.

“I am basically about salvaging the big street pieces that are going to be ruined, painted over, or destroyed,” said Barton. “I take these pieces, I restore them, and I put them up on show in public.”

Barton had his own private collection of Banksy art for sale at his booth in Context. It consisted of secondary market silkscreen prints from Banksy, some were signed while others were numbered limited editions.

“[prices] Varying tremendously from $10,000 for Queen Vic [unsigned] to 65,000 for the Kate Moss [signed portrait].

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