Why is Banksy encouraging his fans to shoplift on Instagram? The global street art icon accused a London Guess store of plagiarising his work … but it could all just be a guerilla marketing campaign

Employees remove lettering from a window display inside a Guess store that included the artwork Flower Thrower by street artist Banksy, on Regent Street in London, Britain, on November 18. Photo: Reuters
Staff papered over the windows of the Guess store on Regent Street in London after Banksy – an anonymous artist famous for his satirical graffiti since the 1990s who consequently lit the fuse on a street art boom globally – encouraged shoplifters to visit.
Banksy suggested shoplifters should pay a visit to a Guess store in central London, claiming that the label used his designs without permission.

Here’s what you need to know …

Attention all shoplifters

Banksy claimed that Guess had used his designs without his permission. Photo: @banksy/Instagram

On November 18, Banksy posted a photo on Instagram with the caption: “Attention all shoplifters. Please go to Guess on Regent’s Street. They’ve helped themselves to my artwork without asking, how can it be wrong for you to do the same to their clothes?”

But Guess said the collection was created legally through a partnership with Brandalised, “an urban graffiti licensing company whose mission is to offer Banksy fans affordable graffiti collectibles”.

A debate has emerged between Guess and Banksy over an artwork display at one of the brand’s stores in London. Photo: Reuters

Soon after Banksy’s post, Guess closed the Regent Street store and covered up the window display, BBC News reported.

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Guess first advertised its Banksy-inspired capsule collection in October

Employees remove lettering describing Guess’ collaboration with Brandalised after artist Banksy contested it on his Instagram. Photo: Reuters

At the time, chief creative officer Paul Marciano said, “The graffiti of Banksy has had a phenomenal influence that resonates throughout popular culture. This new capsule collection with Brandalised is a way for fashion to show its gratitude.”

The collection is priced between US$41 and US$279 and includes Banksy’s Thug for Life Bunny and Livin’ The Dream Mickey Mouse, which first appeared on a billboard in Sunset Boulevard.

The collection features T-shirts, dresses, jackets and socks bearing iconic Banksy motifs.

Banksy’s Laugh Now Panel A (right), top estimated at US$4.1 million, at the Phillips Auction at JW Marriott Hotel in Admiralty, Hong Kong, in June 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wong

It’s unclear if Banksy approved Brandalised’s deal with Guess. If he did, some have speculated that his shoplifting call could be part of a guerilla marketing campaign, per the BBC.

Guess, Brandalised and Banksy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider
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  • A Guess store in central London had to close soon after Banksy’s post on Instagram, calling people to shoplift from the store and claiming that the brand used his designs without permission
  • It remains unclear whether the street artist approved the deal between Guess and Brandalised, an urban graffiti licensing company that offers fans of the artist affordable graffiti collectibles