Banksy-Like Street Art Popped Up in Glasgow Just After an Official Show of His Work Opened in the City. The Artist Says They’re Fakes

Yes, the images showed rats, one of Banksy’s trademarks, but no, they’re not the real deal, the studio says.

This supposed Banksy has been debunked by the artist's studio and painted over. Photo Gerard Ferry/Alamy Live News.

New artworks that appeared overnight on the streets of Glasgow, and which some suspected of being by Banksy, are no such thing. The stenciled pieces feature rats, one of Banksy’s classic subjects, but the studio of the anonymous British street artist has told the BBC that the paintings are imitations. 

One piece showed a rat playing a broken marching drum emblazoned with the words “God save the king” and wearing a hat with the colors of the Union Jack. Its tail is caught in a trap baited with a copy of the Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid newspaper The Sun. Spotted on Wednesday, it was partially painted over by Thursday, according to the BBC.

The works popped up just after an official exhibition of Banksy’s work opened in the Scottish city. But Glasgow City Council told the PA News Agency that the works were fakes. “Anyone who wants to be certain of viewing a true Banksy should head to the exhibition at GoMA [Gallery of Modern Art],” a spokesman for the council said.

“Cut and Run” is Banksy’s first official show in 14 years, and is on view at in Glasgow through August 28. It includes a replica artist’s studio and artworks spanning from 1998 to the present. The exhibition “takes people inside the practice and thinking of one of the world’s most famous street artists, through artworks, artifacts, and personal items—including his toilet—many of which have never been exhibited before,” Richard Whiddington wrote in Artnet News earlier this month.

Actual Banksy works can generate tremendous headaches. One British couple recently paid nearly $250,000 to remove an official work from their building, partly because they had been informed that the town council, in order to protect the new tourist attraction, would require them to maintain it at an annual cost of about $49,000.


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