The £244k Banksy heist… in cyberspace: Collector gets duped into shelling out for fake artwork advertised through secretive painter’s official website
A collector was duped into paying £244,000 for a fake Banksy artwork advertised through his official website, it was revealed yesterday.
A link to an online auction for a non-fungible token (NFT) – a digital form of art – was posted on a now-deleted part of the graffiti artist’s site.
The bidding ended early after the British buyer offered 90 per cent more than his rivals as he believed he was buying Banksy’s first ever NFT.
But the man, who is in his thirties and wishes to remain anonymous, now believes he was part of an elaborate scam.
However, in a surprising twist, he says the hacker has now returned the money apart from the £5,000 transaction fee.
A British collector spent £244,000 on a fake Banksy NFT advertised through the artist’s official website
Banksy’s team said he has never created any NFTs, which are unique computer files linked to photos, songs, works of art and other media. Pictured: Print of Banksy artwork entitled ‘festival’
Banksy’s team said he has never created any NFTs, which are unique computer files linked to photos, songs, works of art and other media.
They are seen by some as the digital answer to collectables.
They have taken the art world by storm and major auction houses are selling NFTs, with the most expensive piece by digital artist Beeple selling for £50million.
But experts have warned that the rapidly expanding marketplace is being increasingly exploited by scammers.
The latest bidder to be duped claimed Banksy’s website was hacked. It had a page called NFT, which contained a link to a site selling a digital piece called Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster.
The picture – listed on OpenSea, an eBay-like marketplace for NFTs – shows a person wearing a cap and sunglasses while smoking a cigarette in front of four factory chimneys.
The artwork was unsigned and was not authenticated by Banksy’s team.
Experts have warned that the rapidly expanding NFT marketplace is being increasingly exploited by scammers. Pictured: Banksy artwork at Hoxton Square, London
An artwork painted by Banksy on the side of a property at Rothesay Avenue and Ilkeston Road in Nottingham
The buyer, who describes himself as a professional NFT collector, was alerted to the artwork by an anonymous person on the social networking site Discord.
The auction swiftly ended after he bid £244,000 with cryptocurrency, which was sent to the scammer.
He told the BBC: ‘I only made the bid because it was hosted on his site. When the bid was accepted, I immediately thought it was probably fake.’
But, speaking about the ‘unexpected’ refund, he added: ‘I think the press coverage of the hack plus the fact that I had found the hacker and followed him on Twitter may have pushed him into [it]. I feel very lucky.’
Banksy’s team did not comment on the site being compromised but said the artist had ‘not created any NFT artworks’.