Banksy has transformed an unremarkable oil painting of a bucolic landscape purchased at a thrift store into an art piece expected to fetch over a million dollars in an online auction for Housing Works, an organization that provides healthcare, community, and housing services to HIV/AIDS patients in New York.
An unidentified person purchased the original painting, by an obscure artist named K. Sager, from Housing Works for $50 as reported by the Daily News. Then, Banksy tagged it with a Nazi officer seated on a bench and gazing out at the landscape. He added his scrawl beneath Sager’s in the bottom left corner and returned it as an auction item on Tuesday. When the store manager saw it, he immediately recognized Banksy’s signature style and knew the donation was worth a lot of money. Housing Works has been happily promoting it and thanking Banksy on Facebook ever since.
Bidding in the online auction started at $74,000 on Tuesday night and continues through Oct. 31, the final day of Banksy’s one-month residency in New York City. The price has already topped $200,000 and is expected to reach much higher. All proceeds will benefit Housing Works.
Banksy announced the donation, titled “the banality of the banality of evil,” on his NYC website. A steady stream of Banksy’s fans and followers have been visiting the 23rd Street location of Housing Works where the painting is displayed to snap photos and see it in person.