Artists Banksy called out the US Fashion Retailer Guess on Instagram. He is claiming that Guess used his designs without permission. In a furious Instagram post, the art world prankster invited followers to shoplift from Guess’s brick-and-mortar location. Guess’s shop is on Regent Street in London.
Guess Closed the Store in Order to Prevent Retaliation
The anonymous graffiti artist shared an image of the shop’s front window with his 11.6 million Instagram followers. “They’ve helped themselves to my artwork without asking, how can it be wrong for you to do the same to their clothes?” Artist Banksy is still waiting for Guess’s answer, but the brand closed public access to that site. They also heightened security to prevent retaliation.
According to Guess, this is a new collection “featuring Banksy graffiti”. Guess and Brandalised created it through their collaboration. The Brandalised licenses designs from graffiti artists. They have shops in both the UK and US. They also highlight Banksy’s art on their website and an Instagram feed.
Since Banksy’s social media call to arms, Brandalised shared a post on their Instagram page claiming “Banksy doesn’t support luxury brands”. They also quoted Banksy saying he was previously “a bootlegger”. They also quoted him as saying that asking for permission to use something shared in a public space was like “asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head”.
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Paul Marciano, a mega-collector and co-founder of Guess, even referred to Banksy’s work as a “phenomenal influence on popular culture.” On the other hand, the knowledge of Brandalised’s licensing agreement with Guess by Banksy is still unclear. But, copyright lawyer Liz Ward commented that Brandalised does appear to have “legitimately sourced the Banksy artwork via a third party”.
“Copyright is a civil offense, but shoplifting is a criminal one” – copyright lawyer Liz Ward
Ward also stated that it is not known if Bansky approved or even knew about this deal. “If he did know about it, then perhaps his comments are there to create some kind of guerrilla marketing campaign. If he didn’t know about it, then he must be quite annoyed, especially as such mainstream companies and brands don’t accord with his anti-establishment views“, she added.
Copyright infringement is “extremely serious and can cause long-term commercial damage”, Ward stated. But, this is normally a civil offense, whereas shoplifting is a criminal offense. “Whatever the rights and wrongs of this, it isn’t right to encourage shoplifting per se”, she concluded.
Artist Banksy’s representatives declined to comment further, while Brandalised also did not give a comment. Earlier this week, Banksy won an appeal to allow him to keep the trademark of one of his most famous images, a monkey wearing a sandwich board, at the EU Intellectual Property Office.