The issues of gentrification, exploitation and good old fashioned bamboozlement have come together hilariously, or tragically, in East New York, Brooklyn thanks to Banksy. The street artist is currently in NYC and local hustlers were charging $20 a pop to get a look at his latest piece, which happened to be in their hood.
Earlier today Banksy posted a photo of a new piece in East New York, setting plenty of street art fans in the direction of the neighborhood. But only those who got to Bradford and Pitkin early enough got to see it free of charge. After one man failed at trying to chisel the piece out of the wall, another group came along and took ownership. Since then they’ve been covering the piece with cardboard, charging people $20 to see and photograph it.
Apparently the “gentlemen” that took ownership of the piece are not only charging $20 but also accepting food and other forms of trade for a peep. Part of the rationale of these taxes has to do with the changing face of BK, which hasn’t made its way to East New York just yet.
One woman who works in East New York and went over to the scene told us:
“They have been guarding it for a while drinking heavily, so who knows. They are pretty angry about how many white people are coming here. Side note, I have some cred here because I work close to that spot. The general feeling is that nobody cares about this neighborhood and now that they have something of value they should benefit. Omar’s name came up several times and they are not going to allow anyone to deface it. They didn’t charge me because one guy has seen me around. They reported that several yellow cabs have pulled up with people wanting to get a look. They are firm about the $20 fee and tried to warn me when I left about the crews from the area projects robbing people who look like they don’t belong. They wouldn’t let me take a picture, but were happy to let me take a nice long look while blocking some others who had not paid.”
Apparently they are also accepting pizzas… and if you’re NYPD you get a free look (one onlooker wrote: “NYPD rolled up wanting to take photos so they uncovered it.”).
Check out photos of the Banksy piece and the BK hustlers at work in the gallery. And yeah, dude in the vid (last page) sounds just like Woodrow the Basehead from Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele. To quote KRS-One, Brooklyn keeps on taking.
Photo: Instagram, desusnice