Weeks after unveiling a pop-up display at a disused carpet shop in London, Banksy has launched an online store of the same name, Gross Domestic Product.
The shop’s tagline “the homewares brand for Banksy” sums up its catalogue: mugs, rugs, cushions, clocks and home accessories. There’s also T-shirts, prints, a handbag and a tombstone (coming soon). All the works are made in Banksy’s studio, with prices ranging from £10 to £750. Compared to a recent sale of his work Devolved Parliament – the painting sold for £9.87m at auction – these prices seem pretty reasonable.
Some of the works are signed and come in limited editions, such as a resin axe sculpture made in collaboration with Spanish artist Escif, priced at £750 with three pieces available. Described on the site as “fashion-forward accessory” is a house brick transformed into a clutch bag with straps and a decorative clasp (£750). “Probably no less practical than the output of most haute couture fashion houses,” the description adds.
In typical Banksy fashion, a number of works bear a political message. For his Welcome Mat, Banksy has teamed up with social enterprise Love Welcomes to produce hand-stitched mats made by refugee women detained in Greece. The women use bright orange fabric from life vests left behind on beaches along the Mediterranean to stitch the word “Welcome”. Proceeds from the sale will go to the workers.
There’s also a baby mobile that will be available soon – a chandelier-like sculpture of surveillance cameras, meant to prepare one’s child for the future: “a lifetime of constant scrutiny both state sanctioned and self imposed”.
Unlike most online retail stores, however, it is not easy to buy something from Gross Domestic Product. The site’s landing page explains how it works – potential customers can browse the shop until Monday, October 28, and register to buy an item they like. Purchases are limited to one product per person, and the website automatically removes orders from duplicate IP addresses.
Before registering, customers will be vetted with a question, “does art matter?”. The website Hypebeast has reported that the responses will be judged by British comedian Adam Bloom.
Two weeks after submission, an entrant will be randomly selected and offered a chance to complete their purchase, which must be done within seven days or the item goes back on sale online.
The site offers potential customers a word of warning, stating that “all the products are made in an art studio, not a factory”, which means quantity is limited and shipping may be slow. “You are advised that GDP may prove to be a disappointing retail experience – especially if you’re successful in making a purchase,” it states.
There are also hints that Banksy might venture into the secondary market. A link at the bottom of the website leads to Bbay, “the approved used Banksy dealership”, where people can “trade in secondhand work by a third-rate artist”.
This is perhaps another way for the artist to take on the art market, specifically auction houses. His canvas-shredding stunt at a Sotheby’s auction last year was one form of protest against the industry.
After the sale of Devolved Parliament, which broke records at auction, he posted a quote by Richard Hughes on Instagram that criticised the way art is valued. In the caption, Banksy wrote: “Record price for a Banksy painting set at auction tonight. Shame I didn’t still own it.”
Even the purchasing process at Gross Domestic Product is a way to deter collectors or even just opportunists to stockpile items for resale. The site says it clearly: “Please refrain from registering at this time if you are a wealthy art collector.”