Banksy launches homewares shop in dispute over trademark

In the run-up to a potentially record-breaking auction of his work at Sotheby’s, to be held on Thursday, the street artist Banksy said he had been forced into taking the unusual step of opening his own homewares store following a legal dispute with a greetings card company.
Gross Domestic Product mysteriously opened in Croydon on Tuesday on the site of a former carpet shop. It will trade for the next two weeks – though will never open its doors, with all sales being made online.
Banksy said the motivation behind the venture was “possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art” – a trademark dispute.
“A greetings card company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art,” he said in a statement. “And attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally.”
The famously anonymous artist said he thought the card company was “banking on the idea” he would not show up in court to defend himself.
He plans to sell a range of merchandise, which is described as “impractical and offensive” and includes disco balls made from used police riot helmets.
Other items in the shop, which will have its lights on for 24 hours a day, include sofa cushions with the inscription “Life’s too short to take advice from a cushion” and a gravestone bearing the inscription: “You have now reached your destination.”
Mark Stephens, an arts lawyer and founder of the Design and Artists Copyright Society, called the case a “frankly ludicrous litigation” and is giving Banksy legal advice.
“Banksy is in a difficult position,” he said. “Because he doesn’t produce his own range of shoddy merchandise and the law is quite clear – if the trademark holder is not using the mark, then it can be transferred to someone who will.”
Stephens proposed that Banksy begin his own range of merchandise and open a shop as a solution to the issue. The artist said the proceeds will go towards buying a new migrant rescue boat to replace one confiscated by the Italian authorities.“Sometimes you go to work and it’s hard to know what to paint, but for the past few months I’ve been making stuff for the sole purpose of fulfilling trademark categories under EU law,” the artist said, admitting the subject matter is “not a very sexy muse”.
Other items for sale include a toddler’s counting toy, where children are encouraged to load wooden migrant figures inside a haulage truck, a clock with a rat illustration and a handbag made from a house brick.
Earlier in the year Stormzy headlined Glastonbury while wearing a stab-proof vest with a union jack on it, which was made by Banksy, who wrote on Instagram: “I made a customised stab-proof vest and thought – who could possibly wear this? Stormzy at Glastonbury.” Replicas of the vest are also for sale in the shop.
Banksy’s painting Devolved Parliament will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on Thursday and is expected to sell for between £1.5m and £2m, almost exactly a year to the day since his work Girl With Balloon was shredded moments after being bought for £1m.


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