From riots to queues... Rare Banksy 'Tesco' art creates a blast in Bristol

UK 'guerrilla' artist Banksy proved that he can still draw the crowds on Saturday (May 7) - and that the appeal of limited edition artworks isn't limited to the salerooms of the world's top auction houses.

Hundreds of fans queued for hours in the Stokes Croft district of Bristol, UK, in the hope of buying the street artist's new limited edition "commemorative" artwork priced at just £5.

Banksy's new art posters have been
released to 'commemorate' Bristol's
recent anti-Tesco riots

Banksy released his limited poster to raise funds for 30 people arrested following riots in the area, last month.

Funds from the sales will be donated to "local groups in the Stokes Croft/Bristol area who support ... those arrested and harassed as a result of the recent Stokes Croft disturbances," said the website of the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair which organised the sale.

According to reports, the riots stemmed from police raids following suspicions that local squatters were planning to bomb a newly-opened Tesco supermarket, following widespread opposition to the store's opening by local residents and businesses.

The work depicts a petrol bomb marked with a Tesco Value sticker, in reference to the supermarket chain's budget product range. The work has drawn its critics, including city council leader Barbara Janke who described the poster as "sad" and "sordid".

But those sentiments weren't shared by the hundreds of fans who had travelled from all over the UK to queue for hours, despite heavy pouring rain. In fact, the mere aura surrounding Banksy was apparently enough for some...

When we asked a young man why he was queuing at nine o'clock on a Saturday morning, he told Paul Fraser Collectibles: "I'm not sure really, something to do with Banksy prints."

Above: eager Banksy fans wait at 9am on Saturday for a chance to own his limited £5 poster. Below: the queue stretches up Stokes Croft

"I'm a big Banksy fan, I've travelled from Manchester and I just wanted to support [Stokes Croft]," said another fan in the queue, quoted by the BBC.

Whatever their given reasons for queuing, the devoted crowds were certainly on to something.

An 'instant collectible'


Banksy's high-end artworks regularly sell for tens-upon-tens of thousands at auction. Noted collectors of his work include Hollywood A-lister couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

With that in mind, there is significant demand for Banksy's artworks around the world.

And, with only 2,000 copies of Banksy's Tesco Value Petrol Bomb poster said to have been produced, this high demand will be met with a very limited and finite supply.

So how does this affect the value of the posters? Well, the result is an "instant collectible". Take a look at eBay, and you'll see that these posters are already attracting bids of up to £200.

A steward monitors the crowd
of Banksy fans, art collectors
and the curious

In other words, a lucky person who got their hands on a £5 Banksy poster on Saturday could already have nearly 4,000% profit on their hands - by Monday morning.

Charity auction

Considering the amounts that Banksy's posters are attracting on eBay, the artist would have been better off auctioning his posters online in the first place, thus netting more funds for local groups in Stokes Croft and Bristol that the sale was intended to benefit.

Perhaps it's because the whole sale was hastily organised. Or because Banksy wanted to draw attention specifically to Stokes Croft and the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair (rather than, say, eBay)...

Either way, the posters' growing values can now be reaped and enjoyed by the savvy people who queued up in the rain on Saturday morning.

The continuing power of Banksy

Previously, 35,000 queued to see Banksy's first-ever UK exhibition when it appeared at Bristol Museum in summer, 2009.

While queuing numbers on Saturday didn't quite reach 35,000, the turnout was nevertheless testament to the continuing popularity of collectible art.

What's more, it's likely that many of the queuers have bagged a limited artwork that could gain value as an investment in future years.

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