Bank Shot

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David Byron

David Byron is a software developer working for the military-industrial complex. At Popehat, he writes about art, language, theater (mostly magic), technology, lyrics, and aleatory ephemera. Serious or satirical poetry spontaneously overflows from him while he's recollecting in tranquility. @dcbyron

41 Responses

  1. PLW says:

    Do you think the lady from NZ recognized the work?

  2. David says:

    Current market value: about a quarter of a million USD.

  3. Karl Erich Martell says:

    Funny, I just came over to Popehat after reading an article/streaming the video over at WSJ – I thought this was a really neat little guerrilla strike for art. Glad to see you publicizing it here as well – thanks!

  4. cdru says:

    Current market value: about a quarter of a million USD.

    No, current market value is determined by what the market pays. Apparently current market worth is $420.

  5. Austin says:

    @cdru

    Just because I find someone who is willing to buy my house for $100 doesn't mean my house is only worth $100. This was specifically done to avoid current market values and shouldn't be taken in any way as a reflection of them. Now, whether or not current markets over-value his art (i.e. the art community willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for something most people don't consider worth sixty bucks) is another discussion altogether.

  6. David says:

    @cdru Your grasp of the art market's scope, constituent elements, and relevant agents is weak. But thank you for your telling contribution to the discussion.

  7. FlyingDogs says:

    Just because I find someone who is willing to buy my house for $100 doesn't mean my house is only worth $100.

    Umm . . . unless you can find someone else to buy your house for more then $100, the current market value is $100.

    So, while I like his work and I find it humorous at times and poignant at others, this shows what the general public will pay for his work. Of course without the hype of a gallery showing and fawning of the "art community."

  8. David says:

    @cdru & @FlyingDogs,
    Y'all do realize that random passers-by do not constitute the entirety, nor even a representative sample, of the market for this art, right?

    Remember when Joshua Bell played his Gibson in the subway? "….the final haul for his 43 minutes of playing was $32.17."

    #freemarketanalysisfail

  9. Sertorius says:

    Reminds me of the Washington Post's experiment where they got violin virtuoso Joshua Bell to play 45 minutes in a subway station with his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin. He made about $32.17 in donations, and was recognized by exactly one person. A couple others didn't know who he was, but knew enough about music to tell they were hearing a true master play.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

  10. David says:

    Sertorius, we owe one another a coke.

  11. Sertorius says:

    Indeed! But more in the spirit of this post, we should share a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label but pour it into an empty Mad Dog 20/20 bottle.

  12. FlyingDogs says:

    @David

    Y'all do realize that without the hype of a gallery showing and the fawning of the art community, which artificially inflates the value of the art, the random passer-by is who will ultimately establish the market value. As was established by the exercise shown.

    #freemarketunderstandingfail

    Yes, you could take the very same pieces and place them in a gallery, market the crap out of it in all of the trendy venues and local newspapers, get those pretentious upper east side hipsters to come on down and dump some serious cash for the art, but it's artificially inflated.

    Like I said, I like his work, but not at $250K.

  13. David says:

    @FlyingDogs Thank you for correcting me regarding the art market and test design methodology. Thank you, too, for expressing your preference as a consumer of aesthetic goods. I shall take your analysis under advisement for the duration of its relevance and to the full extent of its worth.

  14. Hoare says:

    12 October a pop-up boutique of about 25 spray-art canvases on Fifth Avenue near Central Park Saturday. Tourists were able to buy Banksy art for just $60 each. In a note posted to his website, the artist wrote: “Please note this was a one-off. The stall will not be there again.” The BBC estimated that the street-stall art pieces could be worth as much as $31,000.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banksy

  15. David says:

    That's apiece.

  16. Hoare says:

    @flyingdogs

    who would want a Banksy canvas anyhoo?

    His best work isn't even on canvas

  17. Grandy says:

    Yes, you could take the very same pieces and place them in a gallery, market the crap out of it in all of the trendy venues and local newspapers, get those pretentious upper east side hipsters to come on down and dump some serious cash for the art, but it's artificially inflated.

    Choose:

    You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means

    - or -

    You cannot go against nature
    because if you do
    go against nature
    that's a part of nature too.

  18. SIV says:

    Value is always subjective.

  19. FlyingDogs says:

    @David

    Sanctimonious and smarmy in less than 50 words, you have real talent, I like it.

    @Hoare

    Agree

  20. Tom says:

    @FlyingDogs – if some of these canvases subsequently sell to collectors for tens of thousands of dollars when the lucky purchasers realize what they have in their hands, will they then be naturally worth that amount? Or will, at that point, the market literally bearing a price remain insufficient to establish the value?

    What it comes down to, I suppose, is that the internal politics and social arrangements of the art community are market forces.

  21. FlyingDogs says:

    @Tom
    Markets for items, such as these, fluctuate based on what people are willing to pay for them.

    For instance, in the world of classic car collecting, when it was sold as new, a Mercedes 190 SL was ~ $4K. There was a time when the cars could be had for a song, little to no value to the collecting community. They started to appreciate as time went by, but up until 10 years ago you could still get one for a relatively cheap price, say $20-$30K. Today, a well preserved or restored example sells in the range of $150 to $200K. Are they really worth that much? Yes, the market has determined they are based on someone's desire to have one and what they are willing to pay to acquire it. The market may not always be that strong for this particular car, but the market at this time has made the determination of the worth.

    Same could be said for Banksy, his art is unique in some ways and I like his external pieces, the ones out there for everyone to see, I feel they are more influential in that arena. But will it always be that unique and worth what people are paying for it today? The market will make that determination over time and what people pay today for one of his pieces may be far more then what can be asked for in the future.

  22. Tom says:

    Thanks for that almost comically oversimplified account of how markets establish prices, or whatever it was you were hoping to explain.

    Could you now explain, without assuming I'm five years old, exactly how I am supposed to reconcile the post above with the following:

    Y'all do realize that without the hype of a gallery showing and the fawning of the art community, which artificially inflates the value of the art, the random passer-by is who will ultimately establish the market value. As was established by the exercise shown.

    #freemarketunderstandingfail

    Am I supposed to understand from your comments that while the market value of, for example, classic cars is based on what the market for cars will bear, the true value of Banksy's art is somewhere below what the market will bear, because the market is inflated due to something like hype? I'm not necessarily opposed to views that include notions of overheated markets (I'd probably claim that housing prices during the bubble were higher than the houses are valued, for example), but if that's the sort of thing you're saying you owe it to the people you're dumping opprobrium on to unpack that more than you have.

    And completely sidestepping the obviously confused internal model of markets and price setting that you're employing, the notion that passers-by will ultimately establish the market value of any good with a niche interest is stupid – of course random passers by will not value commodities with niche interest as much as the people who are, well, interested in that niche!

  23. David says:

    @FlyingDog

    @David
    Sanctimonious and smarmy in less than 50 words, you have real talent, I like it.

    Y'know, it was my urge to supersede an understanding of markets such as the one you propose that moved me to attend middle school in the first place.

  24. Hasdrubal says:

    This is a classic example of information asymmetry and demonstrates a market working efficiently:

    I'm familiar with Banksy's art and how valuable it is, but $60 for a piece on a pop-up stand without any authentication would probably be more than I would pay. Why? Because it's far, far more likely that an NYU art student is doing a performance piece or trying to score a couple bucks than it is that I actually ran across a Banksy performance piece.

    How do I protect myself from the fake? I pay the expected value: Expected Value = Probability * Value. If a Banksy work sells for $30,000 and a rational consumer believes there is about a 0.2% chance that this is an actual piece of his work, $60 would be the correct price to pay. (Pretty reasonable since this is totally the kind of thing Banksy would do, it's just a question of whether or not I'm in the right place at the right time.)

    On the other hand, if I had the money I would certainly buy an authenticated Banksy piece from a reputable gallery or auction house for $30,000.

    You simply don't know what you're getting from a random stand on the street, so you discount it appropriately. This is actually a great example of markets working efficiently. It's also a gotcha since it's one of those statistically rare incidents where the actual value is much, much higher than the expected value. (Possibly, is Banksy going to track down the people who bought from him and authenticate his work? If not, they aren't going to be able to get full value if they want to sell.)

    George Akerlof explains this very accessibly in his "Market for 'Lemons'" paper.

  25. David W says:

    Although I grant other people have other preferences, and I'm not the intended audience, what confuses me the most about the art world is that *authentication* is worth so much more than the art itself. Hasdrubal's example only makes sense if the value of the art is in the pedigree, not the actual art object itself. Why? Shouldn't the value shine through?

    In other fields, this doesn't apply nearly as dramatically. Competent legal reasoning can be presented by Ken White, or by his associate, and have nearly the same effect. The two may not be equally capable of writing the brief in the first place, but the name on top doesn't much matter once it's written. Feed me an excellent meal by someone I've never heard of, and I'll still enjoy it immensely.

    What's different about art? Why can't you sell that hypothetical 'NYU art student's work' for an equivalant sum, if it's of equivalent quality, such that you can't tell the difference running into him at the park?

  26. SIV says:

    @ Hasdrubal

    I pay the expected value: Expected Value = Probability * Value. If a Banksy work sells for $30,000 and a rational consumer believes there is about a 0.2% chance that this is an actual piece of his work, $60 would be the correct price to pay.

    More likely the buyers determined "market value" by checking comparables in the neighboring booths

  27. Clark says:

    David W:

    Although I grant other people have other preferences, and I'm not the intended audience, what confuses me the most about the art world is that *authentication* is worth so much more than the art itself. Hasdrubal's example only makes sense if the value of the art is in the pedigree, not the actual art object itself. Why? Shouldn't the value shine through?

    “It's all a big racket; they're playing it on themselves. I mean, a gun goes through a famous battle, like the Meuse-Argonne, and it's the same as if it hadn't, unless you know. It's in here.' He tapped his head. 'In the mind, not the gun.”

    ― Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

  28. Ken White says:

    I'd like to thank Clark for not going in the "you know, I'm not sure a schoolgirl ever really wore these" direction with that.

  29. Clark says:

    @Ken White

    I'd like to thank Clark for not going in the "you know, I'm not sure a schoolgirl ever really wore these" direction with that.

    I -

    I -

    Wow.

    Time to go bleach my brain.

  30. David says:

    @David W, If I can carve out the time, I'll write a post that places valuation of artworks in a relevant historical context.

  31. Dion starfire says:

    @David W There are two bits that explain the increased value of an authenticated version.

    1. It reduces the supply. Fakes and copies are far more common than genuine originals. You can get a print of your favorite famous painting for <$100. The actual painting (assuming you could buy it) cost upwards of $100k (for a fairly unpopular painting from a still-living artist).

    2. It has value as a status symbol. Owning a genuine original work from even a minor artist is far more impressive than merely owning a print or a cheap copy.

    3. It has a different customer base. People who buy original artwork are willing (and expect) to pay quite a bit more than somebody who's merely buying a piece for the enjoyment.

    Which would you rather have: an official printing of a book (where you know you're supporting the author) or pirated ebook version?

  32. eddie says:

    Banksy's bit of performance art is still taking place, right here.

  33. Grifter says:

    @Clark:

    +10 for a PKD reference!

  34. Andy says:

    If they sold for sixty bucks, then they were worth sixty bucks.

  35. David says:

    If Ken does pro bono work, then he's worth $0 per annum.

  36. Chris says:

    His best work isn't even on canvas

    Agreed, but buildings and concrete walls have some portability issues.

  37. Grifter says:

    @David, but what's the current Pony Exchange Rate, though?

  38. David W says:

    @David W, If I can carve out the time, I'll write a post that places valuation of artworks in a relevant historical context.

    Here's hoping!

    Which would you rather have: an official printing of a book (where you know you're supporting the author) or pirated ebook version?

    Well, the official printing, usually. Although I wouldn't want to loan you my Kindle for inspection.

    But that seems to explain the difference between the price of a print and the price of a Google Image Search. I note that there's not really a market for the hardcopy of a book that eventually made it into the mail to the publisher. In fact, odds seem high that the original became pulp at some point.

  39. perlhaqr says:

    I'm just going to go ahead and be the spoilsport who doesn't fawn over the vandal.

  40. Rob says:

    I'm just going to go ahead and be the spoilsport who doesn't fawn over the vandal.

    He certainly misappropriates other people's property for his own purposes, but I think "vandal" may no longer be the accurate description now that he's famous. I mean, is it really vandalism when you increase the value of someone else's property?

  41. grouch says:


    If Ken does pro bono work, then he's worth $0 per annum.
    –David

    I'll bid a buck.
    Hell, if he's housebroken, I'll go all the way to $5. I'd need contact information for the family at that rate, though. (Might shake 'em down for double my money by threatening to send him back early).