Banksy opens homeware store after card company legal dispute
Graffiti artist Banksy says he has been forced to open his own homeware store following a legal dispute involving a greeting cards company.
The new store, called Gross Domestic Product, will span the windows of a former south London carpet shop and sell a range of “impractical and offensive” merchandise created by the artist.
In a statement, Banksy said the motivation behind the venture, on Church Street in Croydon, is “possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art”.
He 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.”
Items being sold in the shop include 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.
Mark Stephens, an arts lawyer and founder of the Design and Artists Copyright Society, is advising Banksy on what he describes as “frankly ludicrous litigation”.
He said: “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.”
As a solution to the issue, Mr Stephens proposed that Bansky began his own range of merchandise and opened a shop.
Although people will be able to visit the store for the next two weeks, its doors will never open and the lights will remain on 24 hours a day.
Banksy said: “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.
“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.”
Other items for sale include disco balls made from used police riot helmets and a toddler’s counting toy where children are encouraged to load wooden migrant figures inside a haulage truck.
Items on display in the shop, which are only available to buy online, range in price from a £10 signed spray paint can to a handbag made from a house brick.