Graffiti art can be ephemeral: a spray-painted image — until somebody defaces it, or a property owner paints over it — is, at least briefly, free for everyone to behold. Banksy’s public art endures, partly because of extraordinary efforts to salvage it. When the artist visited San Francisco in 2010, his work popped up in various neighborhoods. One artist-collector, Brian Greif, had part of a wall, with Banksy’s rendering of a rat, meticulously carved out of a Victorian building on Haight Street. He seeks a museum that will share it with the public in perpetuity.
Mr. Greif’s effort contrasts with that of Stephan Keszler, an art dealer with a gallery in Southampton, N.Y., who excavates Banksy’s works from public sites and sells them for his own gain. Banksy (who has never revealed his identity) condemns such sales, as does Ben Eine, one of many street artists interviewed here. Mr. Eine says Mr. Keszler is regarded by such painters as “a shyster”; Mr. Keszler, who displayed a few Banksys at Art Miami in 2012, says he enhances Banksy’s reputation.
“Saving Banksy” owns its sympathies: “It’s the poor street kids and the multibillionaires,” Mr. Eine says. “We’re doing everything for nothing, and they’re walking home with Banksys for a million dollars.”