While a “possibly real” Banksy will fetch you at least $75,000, a series of “definitely fake” Banksys will land you court-ordered community service. The latter was the case this week in London as two men pleaded guilty to selling fake prints which they’d attributed as being created by the famous street artist. They’d already sold several of the forged pieces through their multiple eBay addresses, reports The Art Newspaper, several going for near $10,000. Officials arrested the two men, confiscated the fakes, and a judge has ordered each of them to fulfill 240 hours of community service and have banned them from “selling anything on the internet for five years.” Here’s how they pulled it off:
Howard and Parker set up multiple eBay accounts, PayPal accounts and email addresses, allowing them to carry on the deception over a long period. Many buyers were given fake provenance documents, including sales receipts, bank statements and emails purportedly from Pictures on Walls, the company used by Banksy to produce and market prints. The emails detailed sales histories and appeared to authenticate the fakes. If challenged by a buyer, the two men would simply refund the money. They also participated in online discussion groups, duping other members into buying their prints.