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Is Mysterious Street Artist Banksy as Illegit as He Says He Is?

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[Images via JetSet Graffiti video; Life at the Sparkle Factory]

"I'm not so interested in convincing people in the art world that what I do is 'art,'?" mysterious street artist Banksy told LA Weekly recently. "I'm more bothered about convincing people in the graffiti community that what I do is really vandalism." Well, is it? As soon as his two most recent Los Angeles pieces went up, hours ahead of his Downtown movie premiere Monday night, people started noticing the coincidences of the locations. The muzzled Jeff Koons balloon dog at La Brea and Fourth was behind a fence at a building somehow associated with Ace Gallery and the plywood it was on was removed intact a day later (kind of looks like a canvas, doesn't it?). Ace director Doug Chrismas confirmed to JetSet Graffiti that the work is in his possession. The PARKing piece on Broadway showed up on the side of accessories designer Tarina Tarantino's Sparkle Factory, and Tarantino showed up at the premiere Monday night.

Tarantino tells Curbed "there were rumors" ahead of time about a piece going up in the neighborhood, since the film premiere was being held nearby at the Los Angeles Theatre, and adds "I have quite a perfect blank wall," that already has pieces (high up and difficult to see, she says) by Banksy forerunner Blek le Rat, Saber, and that other famous street artist, who's in the Banksy movie. The Sparkle Factory is currently used for photo shoots, but Tarantino plans to put in a ground floor gallery and move her corporate headquarters there eventually. She says she "really had no idea" beforehand and just "got lucky," but that it was "amazing that the piece ended up on our building." She says she doesn't know Banksy, but "I do know members of [his handling service] Pest Control," and that the work is authentic.

Tarantino was out of town and started getting texts early Monday morning that something had gone up; she returned to see that Banksy had put up the "PARKING" letters and the girl on the swing (some thought the "PARKING" was already there--not so). She says "It's a gift for the city of Los Angeles and we feel like it's our responsibility to take care of it and protect it," so she'll be putting out the money to have it protectively coated and put behind a clear window.

She says she understands the removal of the piece on La Brea, "but that's not the intention of the art," and that only Pest Control can authenticate a Banksy. The La Brea piece has not been authenticated and probably won't be, since PC is also the only authorized seller of Banksys. Ace didn't answer an email sent earlier this week.

The whole thing is kind of Banksyish, right? Is he following the rules or breaking them? Did he let Ace have his piece or is he angry they took it? Is he really a vandal if he graffitis buildings belonging to known Banksy-loving owners? And does he actually even care if he's not?
· New Los Angeles Banksy Work Muzzles Broad Favorite Jeff Koons [Curbed LA]