banksy red balloon
Art: © Banksy. Image: © Dominic Robinson via Flickr.

Some bloke cut up his Banksy art to try and double its value

(spoiler: it didn’t work)

When the artist cut up a £1 million piece of his, it doubled in value. So someone did the same with their Banksy print - and reduced the value from £40,000 to £1.

What it means: If you think about it, it must actually be pretty frustrating to be Banksy, a famous UK-based graffiti artist. Imagine creating art that is all about wanting to stick it to upper-class rich people, and then watching those same people coo about how awesome your stuff is and sell it among themselves for thousands of pounds. Even when Banksy literally destroyed one of his pieces by getting it to self-shred, the picture just doubled in value. (But only when Banksy did it - as the poor sod who cut up his own print discovered.)

The oddness of this whole situation is actually a great example of how free markets - where things are bought and sold without government interference - (should) work. It seems logical that things should be more valuable if they’re made with lots of expensive materials or took a lot of time and effort to make or are just really useful. But Banksy’s shredding of his painting involved none of those things. Instead, the shredded painting became more valuable because enough people decided it should be.

Basically, more people wanted that painting than could have it, and the way a free market chooses who gets it when this happens is by making those people compete with money, where the one willing to spend the most wins. This is known as the law of supply and demand. (Law in the poetic, not legal sense. Plenty of economists have pointed out its flaws.) The supply is how much stuff there is, the demand is how many people want that stuff. In a perfect world, bigger supply = price goes down, bigger demand = price goes up.

You might think this all sounds kinda obvious, there’s actually no reason why we should swap things among ourselves in this way at all. Lots of economist have proposed different ways of sorting out who gets what. For example, we could switch from a system where people buy things to one where nobody owns anything and everything is rented and/or shared. Or we could say that stuff should go to the person who needs or wants the thing the most, rather than the person who can pay the most money (like with the NHS). There are endless possibilities, basically.

Read our explainers on economic choices and property rights.

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Reader Comments

  • WhereAreTheVikings

    What a terrible, terrible shame. Western Civilization nurtured capitalism, and now capitalism is destroying it. And these young people seem to welcome the invasion of their homeland. The media and schools have been very efficient in wiping out all traces of blood and soil.

    • prollawalllynotahumanoid

      Capitalism isn’t the problem. It’s corrupt politicians taking bribes and kickbacks from Globalists and the Chinese.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        Maybe I should have said crony capitalism. Although Italians importing Chinese to make “Italian leather” shoes is not crony capitalism. It is capitalism, pure and simple.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          That would be crony capitalism and globalism combined. They aren’t concerned with the affect their policies have upon their citizens, the health and welfare of their society and culture or their economy. What it isn’t is fair-free trade to further national interests.

          • WhereAreTheVikings

            I’ve always seen them as one and the same, but perhaps they need to be named individually, just to bring home the point.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        But now that travel is so easy and borders are virtually down through H1bs and the like, theoretically you can’t blame capitalists for the pursuit of cheaper labor, although I do heartily blame them not being more patriotic than that. Perhaps the emerging nationalism will force them to voluntarily do what they should have morally been doing all along, and that is employing business practices that preserve their countries and nationalities. The government should be doing everything it can to encourage that, to the extent that small government should do anything but guard the borders and strictly, drastically, limit immigration.

      • Henry Lam

        It is China with its corrupted mindset affecting the world.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          No it is not. Capitalism is the fairest and least corrupt system of all.

          Socialism and communism is based on authoritarianism, coercion and police intimidation. It has and always will be rife with criminality, bribes and kickbacks.

          Corruption can be anywhere but it is the very basis of socialism and communism.

    • Henry Lam

      The government is too weak. They do not understand the mindset of communists and how they educate their people. Those communist people are only loyal to their country and could be dangerous. The immigration law should only accept those who accepted multiculturalism and taught from a democratic education system. This virus events clearly has shown how stupid to take China as a friend.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        The government is not too weak. Just weak-minded about some things.

  • Gabi Rodrigues

    For how many days can a country maximum close their borders to foreigners maximum? Like now, with the virus, everyone is using 30 days. Can it be more?