Banksy’s first NFT auction could be a prank

By Raffaele Redi

The mysterious case of the disappearing Spy Booth and the NFT that wasn't

The Spy Booth mural by Banksy                                 
The Spy Booth mural by Banksy. – Photo: Cosmic Wire
                                

A potential Banksy NFT, which features his Spy Booth mural, is set to be auctioned on Friday 8 October. But could it be a Banksy prank?

As the first and last NFT allegedly sold by Banksy, which was advertised on the mysterious street artist's official website, turned out to be a fake, it seems to be a question that's worth asking.

First 'Banksy' NFT a scam

“So my bid of ETH100 was accepted for the potential Banksy first NFT on Opensea. The link was removed from his website so it could have been a very elaborate hoax, I guess that it will be, only time will tell”.

The author of this Tweet, which was posted on 31 August this year, was Pransky, a well-known buyer and seller in the NFT market. He lost his money, but was almost fully refunded by the hacker some days later, the BBC reported.

A Banksy prank or the first Pranksy NFT?

It is difficult to establish whether the Spy Booth NFT could be just a prank, or if it's really the first NFT by Banksy. Neither Banksy's team nor Cosmic Wire responded immediately to a request for comment. As for Pransky, again, no response at the time of writing.

“Because of torrential web traffic overloading and crashing its website and auction servers, Cosmic Wire has rescheduled its auction of the only remaining remnants of the original Banksy Spy Booth mural as a hybrid NFT to Friday 8 October from 12pm-5pm PST. For more information, or to make a bid, please visit www.banksyspyboothnft.com,” says Cosmic Wire's press release.

The Spy Booth story 

The only thing that's certain appears to be the story of the mural itself, but only up to a point. Meanwhile, from a marketing point of view, the platform hosting the auction seems to confirm its partnership.

Banksy’s famed Spy Booth mural appeared overnight on a wall in Cheltenham, England in 2014. The street art featured three spies with listening devices on either side of an actual telephone booth, and mysteriously vanished two years later in 2016. Two of the three eavesdropping spies are thought to be representations of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

According to art news website Artnet, the artwork was first vandalised in 2014, then disappeared as the property on which the mural was painted was made the subject of an ‘urgent works notice’ issued by Cheltenham Borough Council to stop further deterioration of the listed building. The former site of the artwork is now a mess of scaffolding and rubble.

Further reading: London to host world’s most valuable gallery NFT exhibition

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