This post was first published by My London on 1/10/2019.
The secret security guards that are keeping Croydon’s Banksy safe
Don’t even try to steal anything
When a mini exhibition popped up in Croydon overnight, word quickly spread that it looked like Banksy had been to town and by the morning rush hour there was a crowd of people outside admiring the display.
It took the infamously anonymous artist until Tuesday afternoon (October 1) to confirm he is behind it and there are security guards stationed outside to keep it safe.
While Banksy usually only goes for one piece of art at a time, the graffiti artist has been forced to open up a shop displaying a huge array of works for what he describes as “possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art”.
Yet, poetic or not, any Banksy is definitely at risk of theft.
So this display, called Gross Domestic Product, now has its very own secret security guards ensuring nobody tries to steal anything.
One reader in Croydon’s Church Street, where the shop has appeared, said: “Turns out the guys in brown trench coats are some kind of contracted security guards, but when I chatted to one of them they knew very little.
“One chap told me he was there until 8pm when someone else would relieve him, and he’d get a phone call later on to see if he was needed tomorrow either there or somewhere else.”
Has Banksy got more under his belt, perhaps?
Whether the anonymous creator is going out again tonight or not, his Croydon shop, which he was forced to open for legal reasons, will apparently be around for two weeks.
People won’t actually be able to go inside though. The doors will stay closed but the lights will remain on for all to see.
Banksy was forced to make this rather strange move in opening his own homeware store because of a legal dispute with a greetings cards company.
The artists explained: “A greetings cards company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art, and attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally.
“I think they’re banking on the idea I won’t show up in court to defend myself.”
Mark Stephens, an arts lawyer and founder of the Design and Artists Copyright Society, advised Banksy.
He said: “Banksy is in a difficult position because he doesn’t produce his own range of shoddy merchandise and the law is quite clear – if the trademark holder is not using the mark, then it can be transferred to someone who will.”
To get around it, Stephens advised that Banksy start his own range of merchandise and open his own shop.
Banksy added: “The proceeds from these products will go towards buying a new migrant rescue boat to replace the one confiscated by Italian authorities.
“So you may well be committing a criminal offence by purchasing them.”
While you won’t be able to go inside the physical shop, you’ll be able to buy from it online here when the site launches . But be quick, it could disappear at any time.