A man believed to be the elusive graffiti artist Banksy handed a schoolboy a signed copy of one of his iconic prints before telling him, “This will be worth about $40,000 – have a good life.”
Ben Azarya was travelling on a train in Oxenholme, Cumbria when he noticed a fellow passenger in his late 40s, wearing scruffy clothes and a black, fluffy hat which looked “really old.”
The 14-year-old described the man as a white male who had a “Little jacket that didn’t go over his arms and jeans with paint on. He looked really wacky and had blonde hair and blue eyes.”
Ben describes the man as being on the phone for most of the journey talking to someone called “AK47,” but when “Banksy” opened his rucksack to retrieve something, he accidentally dropped his spray paints which Ben picked up for him.
“He opened his rucksack and had a gas mask and spray paints inside. He got out a piece of paper and had colours marked on it of what he had been trying out and he dropped his colours.”
“I picked them up for him and after that he started signing it in weird letters and numbers. He said ‘do you know who Robin Banks is?’ I said no and he said ‘this will be worth about £20,000 – have a good life, brother’.”
Although intense speculation surrounds Banksy’s true identity, and his art fetches more than £1m at auction, Ben had no idea who Banksy was until he returned home and googled the man described as the Scarlet Pimpernel of modern art.
The Daily Mail reports that in the aftermath of the brief encounter, Ben and his mum Jan have been in touch with Bonhams Auction House, which advised them to get the print authenticated to see if it is a bona fide Banksy.
Banksy, whose work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, has taken his own unique brand of social and political commentary and splashed it on walls across the world. A network of myths has grown up around him. That his real name is Robin Banks. That he used to be a butcher. That his parents don’t know what he does, believing him to be an unusually successful painter and decorator. Some suggest that Banksy is actually a collective of artists, and as an individual, is merely a figment of our imaginations.
However, if Ben’s print proves to be a genuine Banksy, the lucky schoolboy has no qualms about selling his work of art.
“I will probably spend about £1,000 and get a new phone and save the rest.”
[Image Via xouva.com]