What to Do When You Think You’ve Found a Banksy


Mike Holtzman and Sabrina Fitzwilliams, who run the website Barebones Detroit, were the first to spot an alleged Banksy mural of a yellow bird in a cage before it was mysteriously removed from Detroits’ Packard Plant and ended up on eBay. Though the auction page says it’s authentic, we think “authentic” is a better description, as the claim has yet to be confirmed, and Banksy’s frequently copied work is notoriously difficult to verify. That said, we’ve put together a few steps we suggest you follow should you spot what you think might be the work of Bristol’s son.

1. Say out loud, “Oh shit! I think this is a Banksy!” He tends to pick busy locations, so it shouldn’t be hard to draw a crowd of people who might be able to help you figure it out.

2. Stand there in silent reverence for a few minutes. Fold your hands behind your back. If you have a goatee, it’s okay to stroke it, but not more than twice.

3. Remember how much you liked Exit Through the Giftshop? But how much you hated that other guy? Investigate, make sure this isn’t by him. If it is, abort.

4. Use your limited knowledge of how to authenticate a Banksy. We’ve heard something about how he doesn’t do feet well… we don’t know. Something like that. Base wild claims on this knowledge. Refer to a Banksy message board; people will eat that up.

5. Take a picture with your phone. Immediately make it the background on your home screen.

6. Take a picture of yourself in front of it and post it to Facebook, if you’re into that sort of thing.

7. Get really close — as if to suggest, to passers-by, that you are analyzing the brushstrokes of a Manet. This should help you see if it’s a big sticker or if it’s painted on. Don’t touch it.

8. Walk around the block to see if there are others like it (or pieces that might suggest this is/is not a Banksy).

9. Claim that you’re going to call his art dealer, Steve Lazarides to verify it. Phone your voice mail instead.

10. Panic, trying to think of ways to get this thing back to your apartment so you can make a quick $75K — err, protect it from vandals.

11. You think you own it now? How are you gonna get those bricks out of there? Why don’t you think about these things?!

12. Take a deep breath, walk away, and let the next person enjoy it. The people who excavated the Detroit piece left the message, “The canary has flown its coup,” in its place. Do you really want to be those guys?

Main image: Romain Blanquart/Detroit Free Press