Bristol Museum is in hot water for selling prints of a Banksy work without the mystery stenciller’s permission. On the face of it, it’s a straightforward copyright issue; but of course Banksy made his reputation as a graffitist, a subversive, a lawbreaker, a defacer. He does things in galleries now, but derives his authenticity from his time on the streets, where copycats attract opprobrium, but not lawyers’ letters. One purchaser cancelled his order when he found the print wasn’t authorised, as if a picture of something that Banksy did (not the work itself) is only good if Banksy says it is.
Which reminds me – “authentic” and “author” and “authorised” and “authority” all come from the same root.