‘Banksy’ donates work for pub charity auction

Picture: Neil Hanna
Picture: Neil Hanna
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A PUB has raised thousands of pounds for charity by auctioning paintings they believe to have been created and donated by famed street artist Banksy.

It came as an image which appeared overnight in a street in Leith prompted speculation the mysterious graffiti master had been leaving his mark in town.

And one fan asked: “Could Edinburgh be in for more treats from Banksy?”

The auction at the Victoria Bar in Causewayside was organised to raise money for Simpsons Special Care Babies.

A member of staff in the pub said the artist himself had donated the paintings after walking into the bar a few weeks ago.

“He saw we had a collecting box on the bar, asked what it was for and said he would like to help. He said he would donate some pictures.”

Over the next couple of weeks he visited the pub to hand over between ten and 14 works.

And when the day of the auction came, the supposed Banksy pictures sold for between £50 and £600 each.

The member of staff said: “I’d never heard of Banksy before and nobody knows what he looks like so we can’t be 100 per cent sure, but so far as we know it was him.”

The auction, which also included signed football shirts and other items, raised a total of £7500 for the Simpsons Special Care Babies charity.

But questions still remain over whether the artworks are the genuine article.

One customer who was at the auction and bought one of the pictures said: “Some of the work was signed and, from speaking to a friend who works in the left-field arts and music scene in London and who knows the real Banksy, everything seemed genuine enough to me.

“Of course, there is no way to 100 per cent verify the work – which is a big part of Banksy’s game when it comes to his street stencils.”

The customer said there had been 50 or 60 people in the pub.

“Given the excitement in the room, people were buying what they thought was genuine.

“All money went to charity so even if they turn out to be impersonations of Banksy, I guess people were willing to take that risk knowing he wasn’t going to benefit personally.

“I know from speaking to friends in London, Banksy does support charities and in this way and creates snap opportunities for ordinary folk who like his work to buy at a normal price that is not inflated by the art markets that come into play when the big auction houses sell his work.

“There’ll always be enigma and intrigue about his work and the work of his impersonators. I guess that’s part of the fun.”

The sale came as a mystery image appeared overnight earlier this week in Largo Place in Leith.

A nearby resident said: “It would appear Banksy is active in Edinburgh.”

Banksy did not respond to Evening News inquiries about whether he was or had been in the Capital, donated pictures to the Victoria Bar auction or left a trademark image in Leith.

Gill Mitchell, secretary to Simpsons Special Care Babies, said fundraising efforts for the charity at the Victoria Bar were set to raise almost £10,000. She added: “Thank you to the artist who some believe was Banksy. We’re astounded by the generosity of all the community and we thank them all.”

Banksy began his career as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s as part of an underground movement in Bristol. He switched from freehand work to the art of stencilling and typically produces striking and humorous images, sometimes combined with anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment slogans.

Last year, a Banksy artwork was left outside a Bristol youth club and later sold for more than £400,000, with the proceeds going – with the artist’s blessing – to the club.