What are Banksy’s Most Popular Street Art Pieces?
There are a number of things that make Banksy, and his street art pieces, interesting and widely publicised in both local and international media. The first is the artist’s mysterious and unknown identity, which continues to remain a mystery after all these years in the spotlight. The second is the notoriety around each new piece he creates, from the sudden appearance of the pieces overnight to the higher than normal chance that vandals may intervene and destroy it (as has happened with so many pieces in the past).
With that said, what are Banksy’s most popular pieces, where did they first appear, and where are they now?
Banksy’s most popular pieces which are still around
Girl with Balloon
What kind of list would this be if it didn’t start with the ‘Girl with Balloon’ piece?
Unarguably one of Banksy’s most famous pieces ever, the simple image of a girl in black and white, holding her hand up towards a red balloon, has been turned into a tattoo, countless posters, media motifs, and so much more. It really is everywhere, and it all started in 2002. Contrary to the foundational concept of so many of Banksy’s pieces, this one is optimistic and hopeful, a symbol of positivity for whole generations.
The original piece is no longer out there on the streets of London, but the image was released at the time as part of a limited collection of prints, one of which sold in 2020 for over $1 million.
Monkeys are one of Banksy’s preferred character types, with ‘Laugh Now’ a famously dark piece that appears to show an enslaved monkey who may represent the downtrodden and oppressed members of society. With fewer than 1000 prints believed to be in circulation, every authentic ‘Laugh Now’ piece is valuable and highly coveted by Banksy buyers and sellers alike.
The Famous Banksy Rat Motif
This one isn’t just one piece, but rather a central character/motif which pops up in many of Banksy’s works, including his earlier and more recent pieces. The stencilled rat forms a large part of Banksy’s disdain for society and often symbolises the poor quality of life faced by many – not to mention it has become a core part of Banksy’s street art identity.
Famous for being defaced
While Banksy buyers and sellers have long been stepping in to snap up new and popular works of art across the UK and beyond, not all of Banksy’s works have safely made it off the streets. Considered a huge investment by many, owning a Banksy is a symbol of status in the world of street art, with the resale value of many pieces rising exponentially in future auctions – for example, the collection of signed posters and spoof £10 notes which were initially sold for £100 by the artist but which fetched £24,000 at a later auction.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the popular pieces which are famous for having been destroyed.
Love Is In the Bin
This one may have started life as a simple ‘Girl with Balloon’ print, but what followed when it sold at auction pushed the value of the piece sky high and turned it into one of Banksy’s most notorious and popular pieces. As soon as the hammer hit the bench on the final bid, the piece began to shred inside its frame – a stunt that Banksy had constructed himself. The piece was half saved and now exists as a half-shredded investment which sold most recently for £16 million.
The central characters of John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson certainly helped to make this one of Banksy’s most popular pieces – so much so that when TFL finally painted over it due to its proximity to Old Street tube station, Banksy fans and art lovers were up in arms.
From the famously destroyed and defaced to those pieces Banksy has created and sold in the name of charity, through to those which simply display a relatable theme or underlying message, every piece the street artist produces picks up a large following. And with resale value on many Banksy’s higher than ever before, now could be the perfect time to receive a formal valuation and explore the idea of selling your investment Banksy original.