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The Story Behind Banksy

On his way to becoming an international icon, the subversive and secretive street artist turned the art world upside-down

Banksy melds street-fighting passion and pacifist ardor in his image of a protester whose Molotov cocktail morphs into a bouquet. (Pixelbully / Alamy)
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The irony, he added, that his anti-establishment art commands huge prices isn’t lost on him. “I love the way capitalism finds a place—even for its enemies. It’s definitely boom time in the discontent industry. I mean how many cakes does Michael Moore get through?”

While the value of his pieces soars, a poignancy attends some of Banksy’s creative output. A number of his works exist only in memory, or photographs. When I recently wandered in London, searching for 52 previously documented examples of Banksy’s street art, 40 works had disappeared altogether, whitewashed over or destroyed.

Fittingly, the latest chapter in the enigmatic Banksy’s saga involves an unsolved mystery. This summer, during the London Games, he posted two images of Olympic-themed pieces online—a javelin thrower lobbing a missile, and a pole vaulter soaring over a barbed-wire fence. Naturally, a Banksyan twist occurs: The locations of this street art remain undisclosed. Somewhere in London, a pair of new Banksys await discovery.


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