Spanish police bust alleged Banksy forgery ring

Spanish police bust alleged Banksy forgery ring - Arts and Culture - News

Spanish Police Dismantle Alleged Forgery Ring Selling Fake Banksy Artworks

The Spanish National Police have announced the dismantling of an alleged forgery ring that has been selling fake Banksy artworks across the US and Europe. According to the police, the seized works were priced at up to 1,500 euros ($1,642) each.

Seizure of Nine Alleged Counterfeit Banksy Artworks

During a raid on an apartment in the city of Zaragoza, northern Spain, investigators from the Catalan police force’s Central Historical Heritage Unit seized nine artworks. The group operating from this property has been linked to around 25 sales, which were made through various channels such as contact platforms, auction rooms, and antique shops. The buyers, identified in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, the US, and the UK, had believed they were purchasing authentic works from Banksy’s “Dismaland” project.

Identification of Victims and Modus Operandi

The seized works, created on cardboard with spray paint using stencils, bore ink seals and stickers to appear authentic. Police have charged four people in connection with the case, two of whom are reportedly suffering from financial difficulties and had sold the counterfeit works for prices as low as 80 euros ($87). The main suspect, however, allegedly had knowledge of the art world and used forged certificates to pass off the fake works as genuine.

Banksy’s Pest Control Organization Confirms Fake Status of Seized Works

Banksy’s Pest Control organization, the only entity authorized to officially authenticate the artist’s work, has confirmed that the seized works are indeed fake, along with the accompanying certificates. The police became suspicious after noticing an unusually high number of similar counterfeit Banksy works surfacing on the market.

Background on Banksy and His Work

Banksy, who started out as a graffiti artist in the British city of Bristol during the 1990s, has since gained worldwide fame for his subversive statements and dark humor. In 2015, Banksy’s “Dismaland” installation, billed as a “bemusement park,” brought together various elements of the artist’s work, including a decrepit fairytale castle, a keyboards featuring packed migrant boats navigated by visitors through murky water, and a high-interest loan store for children seeking advances on their allowances.

Despite the ever-rising market value of his work (with “Love is in the Bin,” a self-shredding piece, selling for a record $25.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2021), Banksy continues to create works in public spaces, which often makes their preservation difficult and invites theft or defacement.

The Investigation Continues

The investigation remains open, with police not ruling out further arrests or potential victims. The public is encouraged to exercise caution when purchasing Banksy artworks and to consult the official Pest Control organization for authentication.