Banksy sets New Yorkers on race to find street art before vandals

Banksy has been posting images of his New York works on his Instagram account.

Story highlights

  • Banksy started out as a graffiti artist in western England but his work now sells for millions
  • He is in New York for what his spokesperson says is a "month-long residency."
  • Banksy is painting images, taking photos and publishing them on Instagram and his website.
  • Finders of the works can phone a toll-free number to get a commentary on them.

The race is on to locate the latest Banksy on the streets of New York. The work shows a dog urinating on a fire hydrant -- with a thought bubble above the hydrant reading "You complete me."

This is the third piece by the mysterious street artist to appear this week.

The first depicted two boys reaching up to a sign which said "Graffiti Is a Crime."

The second simply read "This is my New York Accent... normally I write like this."

Banksy authenticated the works by publishing them on his website and within hours they were located and defaced.

Banksy may have started out as a graffiti artist in western England but his work now sells for millions in the coveted evening contemporary art auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's.

His foray into the film business even earned him an Oscar nomination.

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He's a hugely successful artist and crucially he knows how to manage his brand.

Banksy knows that his reputation was made on street corners, not in establishment hang-outs like the auction rooms of London and New York.

New York 'residency'

He regularly reminds us of his roots, as with his latest project in New York which his long serving PR, Jo Brooks, describes as: "A month-long residency on streets of New York."

Read more: Banksy mural torn from wall, up for auction

Banksy is painting images on walls, taking photographs and publishing them on Instagram and his own website.

It's art but it's also a treasure hunt -- a race to locate the work before the vandals. Next to each piece is a toll-free number that the finder can call to receive an audio commentary of the work whilst standing in front of it.

Banksy was an early adopter of social media.

It was the perfect tool to allow him to communicate directly with fans whilst also protecting his anonymity. He's using Instagram because it doesn't matter where you are, you can see what's going on. The more traditional use of a toll-free number is intended to make it feel like you're in a museum.

The lingering question is: Will anyone locate Banksy himself and publish that picture on Instagram? Well I've been trying for years.

Apparently I've even met him without knowing it. But this month I hand the task over to New Yorkers ...

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