Banksy Arrested? Calm Down, It’s Art!

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

 registered by Julien’s Auctions, not Banksy, and is an attempt to hype the planned December auction of a work that Banksy stenciled in Los Angeles that was chiseled off the wall and will be sold to the highest bidder.




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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.