Is Walmart embracing the street art revolution?
Alleged fake prints of Banksy’s artwork have surfaced on the retailer’s website, ranging from $25 to $869. The canvas prints listed as belonging to the famous graffiti artist have been flagged by street art experts, Banksy’s publicist and other graffiti artists. Walmart has since removed the items from its website, marking them as unavailable.
"The Banksy canvases you showed me are counterfeit reproductions, and we are currently dealing with Walmart about them," Jo Brooks, Banksy's publicist, told LAist.
Eddie Colla, a California-based graffiti artist, says one of his designs was on Walmart’s website, mislabeled as a Banksy creation. Ironically one of them features the words, "If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission." One of his pieces called “Ambition” was being marketed on Walmart’s website as “Asking for Position,” LA Weekly reports.
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"There also might be a Mr. Brainwash piece," Colla said.
At least 30 alleged fake and mislabeled Banksy prints are featured on Walmart’s website. All have been labeled as “out of stock.”
“[R]egardless of who made the actual product (and I don’t know that answer yet), Walmart is certainly helping them reach a much bigger market,” Colla told BuzzFeed. “I would never agree to have my work sold through a company like Walmart. As the creator I have the right to decide who and where my work can be sold. I was not given a choice in this case.”
On Dec. 2 Walmart issued a statement explaining the canvas prints were being sold through third-party sellers, Wayfair and Plumstruck, and have been disabled from its website.
“We will also instruct Wayfair and Plumstruck to review their artwork to ensure the descriptions are accurate. They’ve provided great products and experiences to our customers and are contracted to comply with product copyright, safety, testing and certification requirements. We’ll work closely with them on the review,” Bao Nguyen, Walmart spokesperson, said in a statement.
On Dec. 3 Wayfair removed the Banksy prints from its websites. “We immediately removed the prints from our site and our partner sites as soon as we became aware of the issue,” Jane Carpenter, head of the website’s public relations, told BuzzFeed.
When Colla first heard about his prints sold at the retail giant, two thoughts went through his head.
“I had a vision of a 400-pound white women in bike shorts holding a 2- gallon jar of ranch dressing in one arm and an Eddie Colla canvas in the other,” he told Daily Kos. “The second and more frightening thought was this: ‘What is the potential impact of a company like Walmart dipping it's toe into the art world?’”
Colla goes on to say Walmart and its partners mislabeled Banksy’s artwork out of ignorance.
“It's common when a group of people try to cash in on something they know little or nothing about. All they see is an opportunity to exploit something and make some money. They see a stencil and call it a Banksy.”
And while he agrees that his art was created in the public domain and will inevitably be shared, Colla argues that he is fundamentally against what Walmart and other large corporations represent.
“Getting ripped off is one thing,” Colla said in an interview with 1XRUN. “Getting ripped off by the wealthiest family in the country is inexcusable.”