Artist Banksy Accused Guess of Stealing His Work

Artist Banksy Accused Us Fashion Retailer Guess of Stealing His Work, Encouraging Shoplifters To "Help Themselves" to the Clothes.

Nov 20, 2022By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Artist Banksy
Guess staff covered the window of the Regent Street store after Banksy posted his message


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

Artist Banksy
Banksy called out the American clothing retailer Guess on Instagram


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.


Artist Banksy’s work


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”.

Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter


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

Artist Banksy
This mural, as yet unclaimed, sparked speculation over whether Banksy has been working in Ukraine. Image: Ed Ram/Getty Images


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.


Photo by Rick Findler/Story Picture Agency/Shutterstock (13629314b)


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.


He also revealed on Thursday that he visited Ukraine to create seven new pieces. His artwork included a woman in rollers and a gas mask holding a fire extinguisher, and a Vladimir Putin lookalike being thrown to the floor by a child in a judo match.
Author Image

By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.