Saving Banksy (2017) Movie Script

[Evidence] About to tell you who I are
I came a long way
and I still got so far to go
Tee off with this trademark flow
And after tonight
I'm-a let the whole world know
My name is Evidence
Of course they were all wrong. Why?
[Ben Eine]
The reason why we do what we do,
you know, breaking the law,
is it's an adrenaline rush.
[The Bummers]
I ain't never seen nothing
Done in the light
I paid for the price
Being dust
Now that you want me
I'm unseen
Take what you want, babe
Take it free
You know, we paint stuff on the street.
That's where it belongs.
You know, it's for the people.
It's for fun. It's for adventure.
[siren wailing]
It's not to turn up in auction.
Be careful whose artwork you steal
because you're subject
to getting your ass beat.
[The Bummers]
Oh, but she came from the south
I never seen her before
I like the curve of her mouth
She liked my moves on the floor
Hey, boy, where are you from
We're all from not around
Why don't you call up your friends
All the girls in your town
I think her name was Denise
She had that long blonde hair
She said, "I'm friends with the band"
I said, "Well, babe, I don't care"
Hey, brother, why ain't you go
Well, as a matter of fact
I think I'm digging your friend
Hey, she's standing out back
[narrator] For decades, their work
was dismissed as simply vandalism.
Now, it's the target of a multimillion-
dollar international art grab,
paintings removed from public spaces
without the artist's permission
and sold at high-end art fairs,
galleries, and auction houses.
[Risk] You know, at least give me
the right to say
what's gonna be in the gallery,
be at an auction.
You can hate my stuff, you can love
my stuff, you can steal my stuff.
Give me the right to say
what I want to sell or not sell.
[narrator] The most valuable?
Works by British artist Banksy.
His work is selling very well
at auctions for millions.
[Ben Eine] There is, yeah, insane value
in the stuff that he paints.
[Glen Friedman] It's like fucking buying
elephant tusks or something. It's like,
here's this beautiful, incredible animal,
and you're just killing it
just so you could own a part of it?
That is fucking foul.
[narrator] This was supposed
to be the story of what happened
when Banksy came to San Francisco.
Well, it's a Banksy.
Instead, it became the story
of art dealers...
If they would have balls,
they would say,
"It's a real Banksy, so we show it."
So, he's the Socialist rat.
...and money.
Last offer I had from a collector
was for $700,000.
What would you do
if you were offered a small fortune
for a painting
the artist didn't want sold?
I got people that want to buy it
for $700,000,
but I can't give it away for free.
My name is Ben Eine,
and I was a graffiti artist.
And now I'm a street artist for...
yeah, want of a better phrase.
My style is a form of typography,
exploring words, their meanings,
taking things out of context.
We rock hardest!
It's a fucking cool name!
A lot of the work I do on the street
is huge, great big words,
or sentences or messages,
or random, individual letters.
Yeah, pretty much words and letters.
Not pretty pictures and blue skylines.
Our roots are in graffiti.
Our interest was,
you know, the letter form,
you know, exploring words,
exploring letters,
changing the shapes of things.
["Strudel Strut" by Romanowski
feat. Jacko Peak playing]
It's a global art movement.
You know, you got people
like Roa, for example, from Belgium.
What he does is just incredibly different
from somebody like Os Gemeos from Brazil
or Herakut from Germany.
Someone came and invited me
to paint in New York.
From there, I went to paint
in Philadelphia.
Last year, we painted
a really beautiful wall in Rome.
Each city crafts and creates
its own artists with its own styles.
Retna, he's developed
a art form based on text,
kind of leans towards,
like, gang graffiti, gang tagging.
He's made it a beautiful art form.
Risk, original writer,
one of the first people to paint up
all the freeway signs in LA.
I'm a pretty mellow dude, you know,
and I've been shot once,
stabbed twice,
shot at multiple times,
um, all for the love
of graffiti, you know?
[Eine] Revok, yeah,
again, original style,
hardcore writer, hardcore bummer.
Killed stuff.
[Revok] They send kids here in LA
to prison for eight, nine years,
for doing graffiti.
This kid Sight went to prison
for eight years for painting graffiti,
nothing else.
Hello. I am Anthony Lister.
Anthony Lister, crazy Australian.
[Lister] That one looked great
from the roof,
but it wasn't right from the street.
[Eine] He just embraces
everything that his art is.
I don't care anymore.
He is his art.
[Lister] The street is about me
controlling space.
It's a fever, you know,
it's a disease, actually.
Mayhem. Craziness. The end of the world.
The beginning of the world.
The remembrance of this world.
Doze Green, uh, definitely not boring.
He was there at the very beginning
of the movement
that created this form of art.
Paris in the early '70s, it was a movement
based around protest,
and Blek le Rat was one
of the people that was doing that,
and, you know,
he's continued doing it to this day.
If you count the number of artists
who are involved in this movement
all over the world,
it's absolutely huge number.
It's really huge, and I guess people
won't know how huge
until it goes in the history books.
[Eine] Shoe, he stopped doing graffiti
and he took his art form
in a different direction,
and it's calligraphy, it's spray paint,
and, again, he works with the letter form.
["Taliban Rockers"
by Romanowski playing]
The most famous street artist
is definitely Banksy.
I think Banksy great.
We needed a Banksy.
He's got something up here,
and he's saying something always.
His creativity, just being totally clever,
having something important to say.
[Revok] I think that Banksy has become
some a cultural happening
that there's been,
like, the Banksy effect.
[Eine] I think Banksy'd been
in London about a year,
and I'd seen these strange stencils,
these strange messages,
these monkeys proclaiming
that one day they'll rule the world,
these little rats with paintbrushes
that had written messages around,
and it was like, "This is interesting.
This is funnier than graffiti."
One of the things that adds
to Banksy's fame,
you know, it's a curse,
is how secretive of his identity he is.
No one knows who he is, who he is,
what he looks like,
what she looks like, so...
[narrator] Ben Eine is one
of a handful of artists
who know Banksy's true identity.
[Eine] I first met Banksy
many years ago.
Originally he didn't want people
to know who he was
because what he was doing
was, you know, 99% illegal.
Yeah, the police would've loved
to have captured him.
You know, newspapers in England
would actively seek him out.
They all tried to find out
who his parents are,
try to find out who his friends are,
try to find out what school he went to.
They want to expose him.
[Risk] Banksy did
what we all want to do, man.
You know, he made it, he did it,
and, uh, he's doing it, and...
You know, I think it's funny,
a lot of people are like,
"Oh, man, he's not real.
He's not real."
He's more real than all the people
saying he's not real.
I know that for sure, you know?
Everybody's aware that Banksy is,
you know, the biggest thing in street art.
[narrator] In April of 2010,
Banksy came to San Francisco.
[Mike Cuffe] There were thousands
of people that came to San Francisco
from LA, Nevada, Utah, Washington State.
People came here
just to kind of do the Banksy tour.
I'd get a text message
at 12 midnight the next night,
"Hey, another piece just popped up."
[Eine] People saw what happened
to Andy Warhol.
Banksy's compared, you know,
the next Andy Warhol.
This is the Chinatown piece,
and this is, I believe,
the first piece that was put up.
The funny thing about this piece
is they actually went into the bakery
a couple days before, and they actually
handed the bakery owners 50 bucks
and said, "Do you mind if, you know,
we paint on your wall?"
And they were, you know,
said, "Sure. What do we care?"
[woman] I like that it has
a message to it.
There's a lot of graffiti
that has beautiful pictures,
but his artwork is the kind
that makes you think about things,
and it's usually promoting peace
and nonviolence.
[Cuffe] It's been funny
to watch it transition
from a community
that had no idea who Banksy was
to one that just, you know,
loves this piece.
It's now a piece
of the history of Chinatown.
I think, at the time,
he was on a tour of America.
But, yeah, he came to San Francisco
and painted a lot of stuff.
[man] It's a beautiful wall.
I've actually hoped somebody
was gonna do something here
for a long time,
and hoped that it wasn't gonna suck.
And, uh, it doesn't,
so we kind of lucked out.
[Cuffe] This is the Indian that was done
on Sycamore in the Mission.
They actually backed up
with a moving truck,
and they had two mattresses.
And they put two mattresses
on either side of the-- this-- the wall.
And then they stationed two guys
on each side,
like, talking on their cell phones,
just like, you know,
someone's moving stuff.
They really are strategic
about not getting caught.
There's not a lot of other street artists
that have a team or a crew of people
that act as diversions so they don't
get picked up by the cops.
[narrator] Each morning,
the city woke to a new painting.
This is the piece on Mission,
the bird in the tree.
This is an interesting piece.
Most people see just the tree,
but if you look,
this tree in the background
actually makes the foliage on top.
Paintings appeared in Fisherman's Wharf,
the SOMA district, and North Beach.
[man] I think it's brilliant.
So, I love that he's controversial,
yet he has a consistency in his paintings
and you know it's him,
and then also
there's just a class about it,
'cause it's real, like, minute
and simple and kind of hidden.
It's not over the top.
This piece, they actually had ladders
going up to the building,
and they draped down huge tarps,
and so they kind
of covered up the ladders.
And there was a party going on,
big party with hundreds of people,
just up on a building over,
kind of across the street.
So, they had to wait for, like, three
or four hours for this party to disperse
to actually get up there
and do this piece.
It probably took 'em,
you know, ten minutes,
but they had to wait
about four hours to get it up.
["ET's Phone Bill" by Romanowski playing]
[Slightly Stoopid]
Why am I treated so bad, hmm?
We view artists who paint
on property without permission
as vandals.
They're breaking the law.
Different cities around the world
deal with graffiti, street art,
in different ways.
Basically, they want to get it cleaned off
and they don't want to pay for it.
So, the way
that San Francisco deals with this
is if you're a building owner
and your building gets tagged,
then it's your responsibility
to paint over those tags
or San Francisco will fine you.
There was a lot of this dialog
going on that, you know,
this guy really didn't care about it.
He just wanted it off his building.
He said the city really was harassing him
about getting it off as fast as possible.
We're able to easily, you know,
put this on their tax bill
and add a lien on the property
if they don't pay it.
If he just cuts that out, you know,
that'll go up for auction
for, like, $500,000, easy.
No doubt, it'll sell,
and, you know, it was painted over.
Under the threat of fines
to the building owners,
the building owners painted over it.
Anything on street level got tagged
over by the graffiti artists, the taggers.
It's been painted over. It's been tagged.
This one is basically destroyed.
So, yeah. Basically as fast
as it went up, it came down.
It's a huge thing for San Francisco
to have these Banksy paintings,
but he'll do one,
and within a couple of days
somebody's painted over it,
tagged over it, and it's gone.
[narrator] San Francisco
resident Brian Greif
watched the paintings disappear one by one
and decided to do something about it.
His plan-- remove a painting
and donate it to a museum.
I just want to save at least one of them
so the city can enjoy it
for more than 48 hours.
I would say 99.5%
of everything I've painted...
in-- within the context of graffiti
in the last 25 years is gone.
It no longer exists.
Our art is developed
with this attitude in mind,
that it's not gonna last
and it's never gonna exist forever.
[Everlast] I get by
Got it good
I barely get by
Got it good
I barely get by
I stay a little high
I ain't gonna lie
I barely get by
Stay a little high
I ain't gonna lie
Got it good
This is the one I wanted to save.
You can see the walls--
The wall's been painted over.
It's this white wall right here.
It was the one that said,
"This'll look nice when it's framed."
I still get emails to this day
asking if this piece is up,
because this is a spectacular Banksy.
That's where that Banksy was,
that white wall right there,
and that one, it's gone already.
[narrator] Banksy left one final gift
in the historic
Haight-Ashbury neighborhood,
a massive painting extending
across two buildings.
One on side, a six-foot-tall rat.
On the other, a message to the city.
Apparently, up here on a wall--
Yep, it's up there.
It's still there. There's a Banksy rat
on siding that I can get down,
so I'm gonna go try and see
if I can get permission to get that done.
On one city block you see--
up above, you see,
"This is where I draw the line,"
and then you have you know,
one of Banksy's rats finishing it
on the other side of the building.
The rat is one of Banksy's
most iconic images.
[narrator] Banksy has an army of rats
rallied all over the world.
I don't know, why the rat?
They're cheeky, funny,
nasty, smelly, little things,
a bit like graffiti artists,
a bit like street artists.
Uh, okay. I just talked to them.
The rat's still there.
It's on redwood siding,
so hopefully it can be taken down.
The owner is incensed.
That building is her baby.
She's owned it since,
you know, the late '70s.
It's her pride and joy,
and she's preparing to paint
over the rat.
And I just convinced them
not to paint over it.
I told them that I want to try
and save it, and I'll work with them,
so they've agreed to hold off.
They're not gonna paint over it.
Hopefully I can get a deal done soon
before they paint over it
or the city comes in
and paints over it
or it gets destroyed
like the rest of them.
Have you ever heard
of an artist named Banksy?
Yes, we have.
Wow, that's-- right there.
Oh, that's a Banksy?
That's certainly not graffiti, then.
I mean, it's a respected artist.
If you cut that out
and you put that on eBay,
it's worth about $10,000,
I mean, I'd say keep it.
Negotiations with the building owner
began in May,
and will take months
of tedious back and forth to complete.
The owner of the building
is so upset
that Banksy painted the rat
on her building, she won't talk to me.
She wants me to talk to her manager,
and the problem is
he won't return phone calls or emails,
so I'm already kind of at a standstill.
Yeah, from what I understand of the story,
it was a long...
They're worried that I might
damage the building...
-They're worried about the reaction
-from the community...
-...drawn-out operation.
They want to sell it.
It's clear now they're trying to sell it.
[keystrokes clacking]
They think they can take it down
and sell it on eBay,
and I'm trying to talk them
out of that.
[Eine] You know, Banksy gave
these people a gift...
and everyone involved in the project
that actually doesn't even care
about the art...
just sees an opportunity
to make some money.
The problem now is the city
keeps sending the building owner
these letters threatening to fine her
if she doesn't take the painting down.
They're actually threatening
to remove the graffiti themselves
if she doesn't remove it
within 30 days.
[narrator] As time ticked by,
the rat was in constant danger.
So, you can see somebody
got up on the roof last night
and tagged over the words.
Thankfully, the rat's still in one piece.
They didn't mess with the rat.
I'm gonna have to focus
on getting the rat down.
This is just getting too complicated.
[narrator] August, the deal changes
once again.
My original deal with them months ago
was I would take the rat
off this side of the building,
I would repair damage to the wall
on that side of the building,
and give them a cash donation.
Now the deal's changed.
They still want everything
on that side of the wall,
they still want the cash donation,
but now they want me to repair damage
on the other side of the building,
so we're talking new fees for materials,
carpentry, scaffolding,
lead paint abatement,
permits, legal fees...
Gonna cut straight up
and take this whole 16"...
Experts were brought in to figure out
the best way to remove the painting.
...go easily back.
Then the cost kept on escalating.
[man on phone] Thanks. Bye-bye.
So, that's a voicemail that I just got
from the guy that owns
the building next door
to the Red Victorian Inn
where the rat is.
We need access to the roof of his building
to get scaffolding up
to take the rat down,
and he's found out
who Banksy is now,
and he wants $5,000
for access to his roof.
November. The building owner
has one final request
before the rat could be removed.
We finally have an agreement,
and the last part of the agreement
is she holds a two-hour discussion
at the Red Vic every Sunday morning
about world peace,
and before she'll sign the contract
I have to go to the two-hour
world peace discussion at the Red Vic.
[Greif] I don't need
all of that at the bottom...
[phone ringing]
...where that last piece of siding is.
I just want the painting from here on up.
Oh, awesome, that helps us quite a bit.
Any, if there's-- any of that wood...
All right.
Well, it's a Banksy.
It's bringing a lot of attention
to street art,
and street artists in general,
all across the world.
That's, I think the goal
for a lot of street artists,
is they want to engage
with more people,
connect with more people
through their art.
They don't want to limit
themselves to a gallery,
and the fact that it's free.
You know, well...
This location in particular is--
It's just so damn high.
You're like, "How did he get up there?"
You can see the roof here,
they think he might've stayed
in one of the rooms,
and accessed
through one of these fire escapes
and came up this ladder.
But we're two stories up
above Haight Street in San Francisco,
and it's not easy to get up here.
He got on the roof and came down here.
They're working right now
to begin taking the painting down.
And there's the rat,
looking down on Haight Street.
[man] I guess we're officially starting.
[Greif] The scoring is the part
that concerns me the most.
[man] So, that's
what he's doing right now.
[Greif] That's what he's doing
right now with the knife.
He's scoring, he's trying to cut
the overlapping paint,
the hundred years of paint,
so we can take
each piece of siding off cleanly.
This is where we have
to be careful, though.
Take care not to keep
from peeling the paint.
[Greif] They can scratch the painting.
Big pieces of paint will come off.
And I hope I didn't spend
an awful lot of money
on a bunch of worthless
hundred-year-old redwood siding.
This is the hardest part
right here, huh?
Uh, I don't know. [chuckles]
I hope so!
[saw whirring]
The second most dangerous part
is actually then,
we're gonna take each piece
of siding down
and cut the nails off from behind.
So, we have to pry it,
get each piece loose,
and then they're gonna cut
the nails from behind
so each piece will come off
without nail pops
and without damage to the front.
[man] Relief? [chuckles]
Not-- No, not yet.
Not yet?
Nowhere near relief yet.
...worry about the painting.
It's a little bit easier.
But we've got about three feet
of crawlspace there,
so I can crawl back in there
and cut from behind.
...cut from behind,
so this is-- this is good, yeah.
You're good.
All right, here you go, Brian.
I don't think it could've gone any better.
First major piece is now off.
From here they got room to move,
room to saw the nails off from behind.
So far, so good.
You want me to try cutting...
All right. Again, I don't think
it could've gone any better.
-You want me to try cutting that...
The rat's face!
Critical part.
Last piece.
-All right.
It goes.
-Is that it?
-Yep, that's it.
That's it. That's what the Banksy
looks like when it's not on the wall.
Everything is all wrapped
and ready to go.
We just need to find
somebody to restore it
and find a museum to put it in.
[indistinct chatter]
[Romanowski feat. Danny Cao]
You leave your home for days and daze
A painting by controversial
British graffiti artist Banksy
has been removed from a building
on Haight Street in San Francisco.
The building's owner received
a notice from the city
to remove that Banksy artwork
under the city's anti-graffiti ordinance.
So, instead of painting over the piece,
the owner of the building
made arrangements
with an art collector
who plans to restore the painting
and offer it to a museum
for public display.
[Greif] The painting is down.
It's all wrapped.
It's in safe storage,
if you consider the closet
in my one-bedroom apartment safe storage.
That's where I'm keeping it.
[Eine] As soon as word got out the rat
on Haight-Ashbury was being removed,
offers from around the world
started coming in,
and there were numerous offers
for numerous amounts of money.
I've gotten even faxes from art dealers,
consignment agreements,
offering to pay me over $100,000,
$200,000 in one case.
I'm not gonna back down.
My goal is to find a place to put this
where the public can enjoy it.
Eventually, a meeting was arranged
with John Zarobell
from the San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art
about preserving the piece,
about the piece going
into their collection.
Okay, we're pulling up to
the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
and talked to them
about donating the Banksy.
They've said that they're interested
in taking the Banksy from me,
so this is SF MOMA right here.
[John Zarobell] We touch on a lot
of different worlds of art,
and many curators are involved
in many different domains.
So, when someone like Banksy comes,
that is-- that's got star power
in a totally different artistic domain,
um, that maybe we're not
the most attentive to.
You know, seeing this,
it's funny because here he blends,
A) the stencil, B) the loose lettering,
you know, just sort of writing
with the spray paint,
and then, C) the throwing the paint
on the wall, al Jackson Pollack.
There's this level of street art,
perhaps teenagers with spray paint,
and then there's his,
which is actually, you know,
a pretty developed pictorial effect.
It's, you know, two-tone.
He's figuring out how to use the stencil
and make it into a complex--
actually, three-tone piece.
I mean, this is
a pretty complex piece of stencil.
You know, this is a very sort
of rudimentary piece of street art,
but it's an antiquated idea, right?
This is sort of love and peace.
Now, this is actually in the Haight.
It's sort of Banksy's iconic rat.
Oh, yeah.
With the little star cap on, right.
So, he's the Socialist rat. [laughs]
-I took it down.
Which is very controversial.
I had an offer last week
from, uh, an art dealer in LA.
-He offered me $200,000.
Oh, my gosh.
I took that down not to sell it,
but I'm taking it down
in the hopes that I can donate it
somewhere so it is on public display.
-So, in my original email to--
-to, I think it was to Peter Denny...
...was would you be interested
if I donated this piece.
Is it something that SF MOMA
would be interested in?
-Well, I mean--
-As a donation.
That's a really good question,
because as I said,
we have worked with artists
who've done this,
and for us to figure out
what our limits are
and how we understand
what our collection policies are,
this is something that's constantly
expanding and changing.
[woman] I'm actually gonna interrupt here
and say, yeah, I think we
can stop this lying.
Um, is the camera off?
They stopped the conversation
and basically ushered us out.
And I got an email
from John Zarobell today that says,
"I just brought up the possible Banksy
donation to our department head meeting,
and there are a couple of things
we'd like to know.
And, he says...
Well, Banksy can't sign off on it
for a number of different reasons.
He doesn't authenticate his street pieces
because people are taking them down
and selling them at auction
for huge amounts of money,
and then the other issue with Banksy
is a legal issue.
If he signs a letter of authentication,
he's admitting to a crime,
since he doesn't get permission
from the building owners
to go up and paint on their buildings.
These institutions are being offered
the chance to own a Banksy for nothing,
no strings attached, and they want
to attach strings to it,
and they want to say no.
I think, at the end of the day,
it's just the old guard
trying to maintain their real estate
and hold on as long as they can.
People would like to see it.
It's, you know, it's exciting.
It blows everything else
out of the water.
But, you know, it's run by old people,
and they don't enjoy it.
[man] I just got an email back from
my contact over in Banksy's operation.
It seems kind of upbeat.
I would just talk to your MOMA person
and tell them to be on the lookout
for an email in from, um,
it's gonna be Pest Control.
That's Banksy's
little operation over there.
I'll talk to you later.
All right, bye-bye.
So, that's a friend that has contacts
with Banksy's people.
I asked him to call
and see if we could get something
so we could get this in SF MOMA,
and as you heard on the call,
he sounds optimistic.
Some artists make work for...
to be destroyed, right?
They don't want the art to survive.
And if that's the case,
it's not the museum's business
to preserve it
against the wishes of the artist.
[man] Again, you were looking
for some sort of document
or letter or something from Banksy
that said, "I want this in the museum."
That, and also, of course,
to say, "Yes, this is my work."
And with street art, obviously, that's
the kind of issue that it wouldn't be
if you were buying a work of art
from a dealer.
The museum wouldn't accept it
unless they had a document
from Banksy's people saying
it was a real Banksy.
[Cuffe] For all you San Franciscans
that are wondering
if these were authentic Banksies,
you come to his site,
go on his Outdoor section.
Chinatown piece.
This is how he authenticates it.
Puts up a picture.
This is the piece on Mission,
the bird and the tree.
Here you have the piece on Sycamore.
This is the piece on Valencia.
This is the piece
at the Regency Ballroom, in the alley.
The beginning of the piece on the Haight,
"This is where I draw the line."
And then you have, you know,
one of Banksy's rats
finishing it
on the other side of the building.
[Zarobell] We don't want to do something
that the artist doesn't feel
is appropriate, right?
If a work of art is made
for a public venue to be out in public,
then perhaps the artist doesn't want
to see it in a museum.
Graffiti, street art, it scares them.
You know, if they had any idea,
they would be buying it now,
snapping it up,
and putting it in their collection.
Graffiti to them is so new,
they don't know good and bad.
You know, they don't know the difference
between this kid,
this little kid that's picked up
a spray can for the first time
and this guy that's been doing it
for 20, 30 years.
To them, they don't know the difference.
There are too many people in this world
you can make happy with this,
to-- to worry about those
who don't appreciate it, so...
We'll just go where people like us.
The question is when are we gonna be
recognized by the people in power?
I don't know when it's gonna be.
Maybe in ten years, 20 years.
Maybe when old people...
Maybe when the movement
will be finished, I don't know.
It's a very difficult question.
Three modern museums
were offered the painting.
None of them were interested
in taking it unless there was
a document from Banksy's people
saying it was a real Banksy,
although it obviously was.
[narrator] The museums weren't interested.
But other people were.
I think the ones on concrete,
they are very powerful.
Stephan Keszler is one of the world's
leading dealers of Banksy street pieces.
He sells Banksy paintings,
but without the artist's permission.
In the street art world,
he's considered a shyster, a villain.
Himself, he considers himself
to be Banksy's biggest fan.
In my opinion,
there's nothing more beautiful
to, uh, see...
original Banksy street works,
because they're really amazing.
All over the world,
these paintings were removed.
They wind up in auction, and they go
for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
[man] Is that Banksy?
-It is?
[Friedman] People make art,
they make it in context.
There's a reason
that they're doing it, right?
And for someone to buy art
taken out of context
or taken off of a wall
or, you know, appropriated
without the artist's permission,
I mean, why are you doing that,
for a fucking investment?
What I do if I take a piece of art
that kids could profit from
by looking at it
and I turn it into this good
that just benefits myself,
it's really depriving
my neighborhood children
of seeing something beautiful.
We have an expertise
how to handle these pieces,
how to get them from the wall,
how to help them.
We will never taken them
personally from the wall,
but I think it's better to take them
from the wall than--
from a house wall or a garage--
than to have white paint over them
because then they are gone forever.
I just think it's self-serving.
It's pretty selfish for a person
to take something off
that is actually, like, there
for the public to enjoy or hate,
but it's still there for the public.
Yeah, you know, you know,
we paint stuff on the street.
That's where it belongs.
Some of these works are massive,
and, you know, weigh thousands of pounds.
Yeah, you know, they're cut out
from fucking brick walls,
concrete walls, jackhammers,
diamond-tipped saws,
packaged up, stored,
and then six months later
wind up in an auction house,
and that's not where they're meant to be.
His work is selling
very well at auctions for millions.
His work is collected
at very high-end collectors.
You know, we make stuff in our studios,
and this is the stuff we sign,
this is the stuff we sell,
this is the stuff that we want
to represent us in the future.
This is the stuff that,
if it turns up in auction,
you know, we're proud for it to be there.
The stuff we paint
on the street isn't that.
-[siren wailing]
-You know, it's for the people,
it's for fun, it's for adventure,
it's for adrenaline.
It's not to turn up in auction.
I do all kinds of artwork, but there's
a lot of stuff I don't want in a gallery.
It's not meant to be in a gallery.
It's not meant to be in an auction.
You know, at least give me
the right to say
what's gonna be in a gallery
or be at an auction.
You can hate my stuff, you can love
my stuff, you can steal my stuff.
Give me the right to say
what I want to sell or not sell.
[Eine] I never sign the stuff
that I paint in the street.
Everything I've ever painted
in the street as the artist "Ben Eine,"
I never put my tag to it.
You know, I don't want that stuff
turning up at auction.
[narrator] Banksy has condemned the sale
of his public works,
but Keszler says he's doing
Banksy a favor.
I think if Banksy is honest
to himself sometimes,
when he goes to bed
and he doesn't have to do his PR,
I think, in a way,
he's thankful that we do this.
Keszler was organizing
a controversial exhibit
at the world's
largest art fair in Miami...
an exhibit showcasing
four Banksy street pieces,
all without the artist's permission.
We acquiring more Banksy street works,
and the other thing is,
uh, we would like to show this,
as I said before,
to as many people
in the world as possible.
You know, this isn't a Banksy show.
It's a show of his work
taken from the street.
You know, newspeople
from all around the world were interested.
It was extremely controversial.
[narrator] Keszler claimed
after the exhibit
some of his Banksy pieces
would be donated to a museum.
Our goal would be, or is,
that maybe when people see these works
and talk about these works
at this high-end venue
that we can make a deal
with some of the museums,
better museums in the world,
and we would love to give
those works to museums
to show to more people.
So, I just got this email
from Stephan Keszler's gallery,
-and it says...
-Desperate to find a home for the rat...
...Brian called Keszler
to discuss museums.
[Greif] My original intent
was to take it down and donate it
to the San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art.
Yeah, you see, everybody's afraid
to do certain things
which Banksy doesn't want,
and Banksy doesn't want to do this
because then if he says to one museum,
"Okay, you get a street piece
and I authenticate it," right,
then he made an exception
of the exception,
and then his whole...
uh, story about being...
not happy about this falls apart.
But one day, it will happen.
And one day it will happen
if a museum,
let's say like the Museum
of Modern Art, or whatever San Fra--
If they would have balls,
they would say,
"It's a real Banksy, so we show it."
Keszler wanted the Banksy rat, yeah.
At this time, he had a lot
of Banksy pieces,
all removed from the street,
and he wanted that in his show.
And is it in good condition?
Uh, yeah.
So, do you want to--
Do you want to have it
when we show it in Miami?
Where are you going to show in Miami?
Uh, potentially.
Would you be interested?
One of the provisions for Miami
allowing the show to go on
was none of these pieces
were for sale.
He also told me that after the show
there's a potential museum in Miami
that wants to take some of the works,
and if this is a way for me
to get my piece in a museum,
even if it's in Miami,
I'm all for it.
[narrator] Four weeks later, the rat
was removed from the bedroom closet
and prepped for Miami.
Yeah, so, you know, this rat,
which isn't a small rat,
it's pretty big...
One last piece.
It's the top of the rat's hat.
Yeah, it was stored in the closet of a,
yeah, this dude's apartment for two years.
And, yeah, it's, like I say,
it's not a small rat.
It's a big rat.
Since it was taken down,
I haven't seen it all put together,
so I'm anxious to see
how it held up in my closet,
wrapped in old blankets
and sheets for two years.
So, hopefully somebody
after Miami wants it.
Because I'd hate to have
to put it back in the closet.
[Eine] Miami... December...
Wynwood is the biggest art wank
in the world ever.
It's insane.
Miami Art Battle was great.
It brought together so many people,
so many different forms of art.
Such a young generation flocked there
and gave us so much energy.
[dance music playing]
Watch me now
[man calling out]
[Eine] Every street artist
from every country is there,
scrambling and fighting to paint walls.
No one's getting paid.
Everything gets repainted.
Everything is new, fresh, and exciting.
And then, on top of that,
you have the money,
the art fans,
the dealers selling stuff.
Yeah, it's insane.
It's borderline schizophrenia, actually.
[train horn honks]
It's the poor street kids
and the multibillionaires.
And we're doing everything for nothing.
And they're walking home with Banksies
for a million dollars.
So, I'm actually
kind of stressed right now
because I got a call 40 minutes ago.
The rat has arrived in Miami early,
and it's actually
inside the Art Miami complex already.
Uh, they've opened the crate.
They're in the process
of unpacking the piece,
and I want to be
inside for the installation.
I don't even know where to go.
This complex is so huge.
It's an entire city block of white tent
after white tent,
and in a couple of days
all these tents are gonna be filled
with high-end art from all over the world.
Two years to the day
from, uh, the Banksy rat
on Haight Ashbury finally coming down,
two years to that exact day
it was reassembled
and put on display in Miami.
[narrator] The Banksy exhibit
drew huge crowds.
So, this is a not-for-sale Banksy show
at Art Miami, and the people's reaction
is exactly what I thought will be.
People are excited about the works.
They're standing in line,
they're writing about this,
and it gives us proof
that what we did
with the works that would've been
destroyed at the original locations
are very loved by dealers,
lovers, and art connoisseurs.
So, this is the proof for us
that it was right what we did
and what we are doing.
It was all over the news.
Banksy show. Banksy show. Banksy show.
And it wasn't a Banksy show.
It was a Keszler show.
This is Kissing Couple,
one of Banksy's most famous work.
He made it in 2005 in Brighton, England,
and you see two cops kissing each other,
which I think is a very funny way
to show you protest
against the establishment.
So, Banksy made this work,
which is named Out of Bed Rat,
in 2006 in Los Angeles.
He made it in-- on Melrose Place.
[Greif] I don't know
how I feel about this.
It's like when you see
a deer in the wild, it's cool.
When you see a deer's head on the wall,
it's not so cool.
These things were actually put on display
as trophy heads,
but, you know, sometimes it's really cool
to look at trophy heads.
[Greif] The weird thing is
they set the rat up
right across from the VIP cocktail lounge.
They look out of place,
but there's a lot of work that looks out
of place in there, and yeah.
It's a capitalist thing, you know?
It's the emperor's new clothes.
Most of the artwork
that's in galleries is bullshit.
Most of the reason the people
are selling art is bullshit.
They're just trying to make money,
and they're just talking up bullshit
because they can control it.
[narrator] Banksy condemned the show.
Street artists refused to attend.
Is-- Is this a film about that?
[man] Yeah.
Oh, well, I mean, f...
Look, really, I don't even, like,
I don't care, like, if you're asking me
if I'm gonna go see it,
probably not-- no, definitely not.
I'm not gonna wait in a line
to go and see that.
And especially 'cause it's not
like where it was, I guess.
Pfft. I mean, really,
I've got no comment about that.
So, yeah, I heard these rumors
that somebody was gonna vandalize
the Banksy paintings at the show.
Opening night, suits, cocktails,
security guards...
[man] There was some talk that people
might try to come in
and vandalize the Banksies.
Had you heard that?
First of all, if you see here,
there's 24/7 security.
If they do this... they will go to jail.
So, I'm not worried about that.
...which, uh, unfortunately
never happened.
It would've been fun.
Now, Banksy's condemned the show.
How do you feel about that?
I don't care. He is painting his works
on houses or properties
of other people without asking.
If I do my own canvas,
then I obviously feel like I have rights,
but if I do it on somebody else's
property, then I would say no.
That, no.
He expect that what we are doing,
we need to ask him for permission.
So it's a hypocritical argument,
what he does.
They should respect the artist
and, like, what they wanted,
and not just, like, "Oh, it needs to be
in this art show thing."
So, I can understand that it doesn't
necessarily fit his aesthetic
to be on the wall
inside a museum or a gallery.
He doesn't trust the gallery system.
He doesn't necessarily agree
with how it works.
Uh, he wants to do
everything on his terms,
and, you know,
he's successful at doing that.
There is a big market now,
a big, very important market
of street art,
a lot of money is involved
in street art now,
a lot of money.
This hype about Banksy right now
where nobody knows who he is
and what he is, I think,
is a very strategic and smart way
from him to get his work
and to get him more famous.
[narrator] In 2005, Banksy
did several paintings
on the division wall in Palestine.
Ben Eine was with him.
I went to Palestine with Banksy.
Uh, it was our first trip
to Palestine, and...
Yeah, we went and painted
quite a few pieces
on the segregation wall,
on bombed ruins,
on basically huge lumps of concrete.
And we spent two weeks over there
painting all day, every day,
and, yeah, we left Palestine,
and we never expected to see
any of those paintings again.
Two of them turn up in Miami.
This is Wet Dog.
He made it in 2007, uh, in Palestine.
It's about 1,800 pounds.
It's a really heavy piece.
We restored it the way it is right now,
and it was seen on the stone
next to a bus station in Palestine.
And now it's here.
This piece is Stop and Search.
It was also made in 2007
in Palestine, West Bank.
It shows a little girl with a soldier
from the occupying force of Israel,
and this was a very strong statement
of Banksy
to protest against what is going on
in the Middle East.
You see here all the bullets,
shots in there,
so I think this is one of the most famous
Banksy pieces in the world.
I mean, I can't imagine someone
going to the Middle East,
where there's been conflict for, you know,
thousands of years,
and an artist
in this day and age goes there,
seeing what's going on politically,
and is trying to make a statement,
you know, and share something
with the people
and try and make a positive impact,
and some fucking asshole comes
and just takes the shit off a wall there
and tries to sell it to someone
in a fancy neighborhood
somewhere else in the world
who happens to have
enough money to pay for it?
I mean, what the fuck is that?
I mean, what sense does that make?
He's trying to, like, soothe
a very chaotic and sensitive place
with some art, you know, for the people,
and then some fucking asshole
comes out of left field
and, like, because he can make a buck,
you know, like, rips it out
and like, you know...
It's deplorable.
Do we profit from it? Yes.
Do we put a lot of effort into it? Yes.
So we both deserve it.
[Eine] Keszler knew that the rat
was preserved.
He wanted to buy it.
He obviously had people
that wanted to buy it from him.
He wanted to own this painting.
Yeah. So, the first thing is
it's not for sale here.
So there's not even
a discussion about this.
And, um... I think it's, right now,
my guess is
that it's not--
It's not a million dollars.
It's not.
Also, my big pieces
are not a million dollars.
So, I think it's-- I--
I think it's a couple of hundred--
I-I-I think I could sell it easily--
Easily-- This cost me
hundred thousand dollars also here.
I think I could sell it for...
Two hundred, two hundred fifty,
net, for you.
Well, then I would--
I would get a hundred thousand.
So three hundred fifty, more or less,
and you would get two hundred fifty
or something like this.
You know, it's frustrating,
but, you know, when money gets involved,
this is what happens.
But this is much more...
sellable, or commercial,
because you can hang 250 pounds
better in your apartment
than a 3,000
or 2,000 pound concrete wall.
[narrator] What happened
to Keszler's Banksies after the exhibit?
[auctioneer] We can start the auction,
and we start with the Lot 1.
[narrator] Wet Dog,
one of the pieces from Palestine,
turned up at an auction in Miami,
alongside a new Banksy street piece
called Slave Labor.
[auctioneer] ...70,000, 80,000, 90,000...
[auctioneer fades]
I'm back from Miami, and I brought back
the actual catalog for Art Miami,
and the very first piece featured
in this big, thick catalog is my Banksy.
And then you flip to the next page,
and another picture
of my Banksy from the Red Vic,
along with the other Banksies
that were exhibited.
There shouldn't be a price tag on them.
They shouldn't be at auction.
They should be out in the public
where people can enjoy them for free.
Keszler wanted the Banksy rat.
So, here's an email
directly from Stephan Keszler.
It says, "We're putting together
our new brochure
for Banksy originals...
If yes, I would suggest a minimum price
we both have to agree on,
and an equal share.
Thanks, Stephan."
The rat wasn't for sale.
He wanted to buy it.
The price that he was going
to pay for it kept on going up.
Two weeks later, there was an offer
of half a million dollars on the table.
He had called me
and offered me $500,000 for my Banksy.
And here's the email. It says...
He seems okay
with my decision at this point,
but then his tone changes.
So, this email came the very next day
from Stephan Keszler. It says...
Haven't heard from him since.
Half a million dollars is a substantial
amount of money by anybody's standards.
You know, to say no to that,
well, obviously this dude's
not just somebody
who's trying to, you know, flip it
and, you know, capitalize off of it
and make a quick buck, is he?
Yeah, you know, this is the irony
of, you know, Banksy street art,
you know, taken down from the street.
Here's this guy that has a Banksy piece
and he wants to give it to a museum,
and they don't want to take it,
and yet somebody's prepared
to pay half a million dollars for it.
You know, it's--
it's the beauty of street art.
[narrator] Art dealers continue to remove
and sell Banksy's public paintings.
Banksy doesn't see a single penny
from the sale of these works.
[Eine] At some point, he'll stop painting.
At some point, he'll die.
These paintings will never
be made again.
People want them.
There's-- yeah, insane value
in the stuff that he paints.
So, a couple things that I've noticed...
[narrator] The Haight Street rat was
eventually sent to Southern California
to be preserved and fully restored.
[Greif] One of the things I want to do
is protect the edges
from being banged or chipped...
[narrator] With preservation,
the total cost of saving the rat?
Over $40,000.
If it is boxed in,
then the frame would obviously be...
[Greif] So, it's back in San Francisco,
and I'm really happy with the restoration.
It looks a lot better
than it did in Miami,
and what I like about the restoration
is I wanted them
to make it look like it did
on the wall of the building
and not, you know,
like a preserved painting,
and they've done that.
You know,
there are still cracks in the paint.
There are nails.
You can see the nails
that are sticking out and bent over.
So, it looks really good.
[narrator] The restoration
became front-page news
in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The publicity generated a new wave
of offers from private collectors,
including an offer of $700,000.
That offer was rejected.
[Justin Jack] I got the money
I got the money for you
Since the article
in the San Francisco Chronicle,
I've been flooded with people
that want to show it
and people that want to buy it,
but unfortunately, none of them
are really good fits.
I had somebody call me--
they wanted to put it up
on the gate outside their house,
in the redwoods north of San Francisco,
which, for me, doesn't work.
So, you know, I'm still looking
for a home for it.
Hopefully, we'll find a place to put it.
The last offer I had from a collector
was for $700,000,
which I turned down.
Good for him, man.
If he's really not doing it for the profit
and he wants it in a museum,
and he believes that strongly about it,
I think he's doing the right thing
because eventually, you know, it'll gain
traction and it'll get in a museum.
[Greif] I've learned a lot,
and I've me a lot of graffiti artists,
and, you know, they all have
sort of a different take on it.
Some think I never should've touched it
or should've left it up,
and if it got destroyed, it got destroyed.
The whole thing with conserving shit
that's been done on the street,
it makes no sense.
You know, others say it's a good thing,
and I know some of the graffiti artists
are saying that maybe we need to rethink
this whole temporary art form thing.
I don't know.
You know, like, right now, today,
I wouldn't want
one of my paintings preserved.
A hundred years' time,
when I'm dead and none of them exist,
I would love for one of my paintings
to be preserved.
It's, you know, it's a double-edged sword.
The art that was done in this movement
in the public, which is important,
is all gonna be gone.
So, the whole idea of this being
a temporary art form
and it's okay if it gets, you know,
painted over or destroyed,
to me, really needs to be re-thought.
Well, it's part of history.
You know, we're gonna talk about,
"You remember when people
were taking all of our pieces
and putting them in museums.
We didn't want them there"?
There's gonna be a period of work that's,
you know, work that's out of context.
It's gonna be all this work
that's like, "What period was that from?"
"Oh, that was the work
that wasn't supposed to be in a museum."
So it all, you know, it's all relative.
[Greif] There's no doubt
that it's a Banksy.
There's no doubt
that it's an important Banksy.
It's iconic Banksy imagery.
For it to be protected and to then take on
an entirely new life and last,
even if it's in a different context,
just keeping it for,
you know, historical sake
or whatever, like, yeah, that's rad.
If you can save art, it's... Do it.
[Greif] You know, Banksy pieces like this
either get destroyed
or they get sold and they end up
in somebody's house
where the public can't see it.
And, you know, we were able
to take this one down, preserve it,
and, you know, hopefully at some point
it'll be up in a place
where the public can see it
you know, 24/7.
I got the money
I got the money for you
So, it's funny, you know.
I got people that want to buy it
for $700,000,
but I can't give it away for free.
I don't know, man.
What's the moral to the story?
Is there a moral?
If there was a moral to this story,
it's, you know, for once,
greed didn't win.
The good guys did.
You know...
It's there, it's preserved,
it will turn up in a museum,
and it's not gonna hang
on somebody's house in the Hamptons.
Yeah, the good guys won, I suppose.
When the Earth explodes,
it's all gonna be stardust, anyway.
In 50 years' time,
everyone's gonna be grateful.
Yeah, that's the moral, probably.
I got the money
I got the money for you
[song continues indistinctly]
[narrator] And what would Banksy
think of all this?
I'm pretty sure he would find it amusing
that people care this much
about something that took him
ten minutes to paint.
Yeah. Yeah, he would laugh.
All I do is feel the pain
All I do is feel the...
All I do is feel the pain
Based on a true story
My life and your life
Uh, let's go
Uh, that's pain
All I do is feel the pain
Nothing more, nothing less
I feel it hella close
to the chest, yeah
Uh, that's pain
All I do is feel the pain
Nothing more, nothing less
I feel it hella close to the chest
The end of last year
was a tad bit crazy
My ex-bitch lied
and cheated on me crazy
When I think about it,
wasn't all that crazy
I got on my knees and prayed
for the Lord to save me
Tired of working dead-end jobs,
least I got a J-O-B
Then I got a DUI,
damn, I gotta testify
Inside the courtroom,
spent a night in jail
Bitch couldn't pick me up,
working on her nails
Damn, that shit is real life
Then they had to die twice
Handcuffed to a chair
When the shit is all clear
Nice guys finish last
So I'm an asshole
Suck the dick, gag, bitch
Holding up my cash flow
Can't turn this over
to a housewife, late night
You see these niggers leave her
swimming with the semen
Yeah, bitch, she was a ho
This is my retaliation
You deserve a trombone
at your skank-ass bitch
Uh, that's pain
All I do is feel the pain
Nothing more, nothing less
I feel it hella close
to the chest, yeah
Pain, pain, pain-pain
Nothing more, nothing less
Pain, pain, pain-pain
I feel it hella close
to the chest, yeah...
["Aging" by the Wind and the Sea playing]
And as you grow, my son
You lose faith in man
With a perfect plan for our kind
And as you age, my boy
You lose faith in God
Wound the sweet path flow by and by
And you weep without a reason
And you cry without cause
You fucked up
every thing you got to do
But it's all...
And when you go
You fall in love with a girl
She makes you hang on forever
This year suits you
Like a bastard child...