9 Mar, 2024 @ 10:00
1 min read

Making bank-sy: Spanish police smash counterfeit art ring selling fake Banksy works

SPANISH police have smashed a counterfeit art ring who were selling fake Banksy pieces around the world. 

Police have arrested four people suspected of fraud and intellectual property infringement. Photo: govern.cat

READ MORE: Malaga’s ‘Banksy’ attracts world attention replicating masterpieces on the streets of Spain and Europe

Officers arrested two people at a workshop in Zaragoza for allegedly creating the forgeries.

They also arrested another two people for selling the artworks. 

The suspects are under suspicion of continued fraud and infringement of intellectual property. 

Each piece, supposedly by British street artist Banksy, sold for between €80-1500. 

According to a statement from Mossos d’Esquadra, the scammers made up to €10,000 in the scheme.

Banksys most expensive artwork, Love In The Bin, sold for £18.6 million in 2021. 

Mossos d’Esquadra seized nine works and have identified another 25 in Scotland, Spain, the US, Germany and Switzerland. 

The group sold the pieces, often spray painted onto cardboard, in specialised shops, Barcelona auction houses and online. 

Officers also seized the various stencils and paints used to create the artworks. 

The group claimed the works had been created as part of Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’ project, a temporary exhibition resembling a dreary theme park.

Named ‘The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction’, the exhibition was held in Weston-super-Mare near Banksy’s native Bristol. 

Banksy’s Dismaland was held in 2015 in Weston-super-Mare. Photo: Cordon Press

READ MORE: Judge in Spain cites British icon Banksy as he lets off graffiti ‘artist’ who tagged private homes and monument because ‘he could be a huge artist’ – despite €7,000 in damages

Many have drawn parallels between Dismaland and Disneyland, thanks to the runned down princess castle surrounded by a murky moat where refugee boats float. 

The scammers reportedly included stickers, stamps and certificates from the exhibition to make the product seem more authentic. 

The Mossos’ Historic Heritage unit began investigating the ring in July last year after identifying the sale of several fake Bansky pieces.

They discovered the Zaragoza workshop in December 2023.

According to police, the creators were ‘young Banksy fans in economic trouble.’ 

The investigation remains open and police could make further arrests. 

They are working with Pest Control, the only official company to verify authentic Banksy pieces.

Banksy, an anonymous artist, is famous for his murals, critical of modern politics and art, often found in unexpected locations like the West Bank and Gaza.

READ MORE: Spanish Banksy boosts morale of doctors with incredible murals outside Santander hospital

Yzabelle Bostyn

After spending much of her childhood in Andalucia and adulthood between Barcelona and Latin America, Yzabelle has settled in the Costa del Sol to put her NCTJ & Journalism Masters to good use. She is particularly interested in travel, vegan food and has been leading the Olive Press Nolotil campaign. Have a story? email [email protected]

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