A statement issued by street artist Banksy this afternoon confirmed that his Gross Domestic Product store in a disused carpet shop on Church Street in the town centre is indeed his work, and that it is in effect a showroom for his latest “products” – products that he has been forced into making because of a legal dispute with a card company which is attempting to rip-off his copyrighted work.
Banksy calls the merchandise on display in Croydon “impractical and offensive”.
In the statement, Banksy said, “A greetings cards company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art, and attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally.
“I think they’re banking on the idea I won’t show up in court to defend myself.”
The shop, opposite Croydon’s historic Surrey Street street market, also had a notice stuck up outside to explain the purpose.
It said, “The showroom is for display purposes only and the doors will not open.”
Anyone wanting to buy any of the limited-issue, hand-made Banksy products – such as the welcome mats, made from life vests salvaged from the shores of the Mediterranean, which have been hand-stitched by women in detainment camps in Greece, and which have been drenched in irony – will need to place their order online at the grossdomesticproduct.com website.
It is not yet clear whether Union Jack stab vests, “as worn by Stormzy”, and featured in the Banksy shop window, will also be among the items available to purchase.
“The showroom will be here for a few weeks only,” the notice said.
Also in the shop window is an anti-incinerator piece of work that Banksy has had displayed in other areas blighted by toxic air quality, showing a small child struggling to breathe.
Croydon Council has a £10million per year contract with Viridor to burn the borough’s rubbish, though council leader Tony Newman, who rushed to Church Street to get himself filmed outside the Banksy store in a blatant attempt to help raise his own profile, failed to appreciate the biting social commentary contained within. But then, Newman is a bit thick.
The lawyer representing Banksy in his copyright dispute called the legal action being undertaken against the artist as “frankly ludicrous litigation”.
Solicitor Mark Stephens told ITV News, “Banksy is in a difficult position because he doesn’t produce his own range of shoddy merchandise and the law is quite clear – if the trademark-holder is not using the mark, then it can be transferred to someone who will.”
To resolve the matter, Bansky has begun to market his own range of merchandise and so opened the showroom.
Banksy recommends that the store is “best viewed at night”.
In his Instagram post, the artist said, “Sometimes you go to work and it’s hard to know what to paint, but for the past few months I’ve been making stuff for the sole purpose of fulfilling trademark categories under EU law. It’s not a very sexy muse.
“The proceeds from these products will go towards buying a new migrant rescue boat to replace the one confiscated by Italian authorities.
“So you may well be committing a criminal offence by purchasing them.”
Other items for sale include disco balls made from used police riot helmets, a signed spray paint can, a handbag made from a brick, and a toddler’s counting toy where children are encouraged to load wooden migrant figures inside a haulage truck.
Banksy added: “I still encourage anyone to copy, borrow, steal and amend my art for amusement, academic research or activism.
“I just don’t want them to get sole custody of my name.”
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