Walmart and Banksy are two names that sound odd in the same sentence, but sometimes life imitates art.
The company has reportedly been selling knockoffs of some famous paintings by the street artist through a third-party vendor on their website, and recently took the items down after Banksy’s reps called them out on it.
California street artist Eddie Colla says that one of his works–which has the words “If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission” stenciled on it–was also being sold on the site but was marked as a Banksy piece. The irony of his art being sold by a huge corporation is not lost on him.
“That’s the irony, isn’t it?” Colla said. “I made a piece about individuals controlling their own fate and not making their success contingent on the approval of others. It then gets adopted by a neo-feudal corporation like Walmart.”
Walmart issued a statement about the art–which has been taken off their site–saying, “These items are sold through our Marketplace third-party sellers Wayfair and PlumStruck. We’ve taken action to disable the one item in question by Callo, and it will be unpublished later tonight around midnight PT. We will also instruct Wayfair and Plumstruck to review their artwork to ensure the descriptions are accurate. They’ve provided great products and experiences to our customers and are contracted to comply with product copyright, safety, testing and certification requirements. We’ll work closely with them on the review.”
Banksy–and street art in general–has been in high demand this year due to something of a “street residency” in New York City in the fall. The U.K.-based artist left his mark on several streets around the boroughs, some of which was promptly chiseled down by rabid fans and some of which was covered over by other artists. Banksy also pulled a controversial stunt towards the end of his stay in the city, setting up a booth full of his stencils–which are worth thousands of dollars–and selling only a few due to the public’s assumption that they were fakes.