Artist Sneaking His Own Works in, Hanging Them in Museums

Ability to place his work in high-profile museums questions security of institutions


NEW YORK -- A British prankster has surreptitiously hung his own humorous artwork, some of them carrying an anti-war message, in four major New York museums over the last two weeks.

The man, who calls himself "Banksy" on a Web site that displays his artwork, has pulled similar stunts at the Louvre in Paris and the Tate museum in London, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Photographs taken by an accomplice showing Banksy carrying a painting into a museum and sticking it to the wall near other pieces of art are also on displayed on a Web site.

Over the last two weeks, his artwork has been found and removed from the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the American Museum of Natural History.

He has been captured on museum security cameras wearing a hat and a beard.

Banksy said he entered all the museums during visitors' hours. Asked how he was able to avoid detection, he replied in an e-mail exchange with the Times arranged by an intermediary: "You just have to glue on a fake beard and move with the times."

"I've wandered round a lot of art galleries thinking, 'I could have done that,' so it seemed only right that I should try," Banksy was quoted as saying. "These galleries are just trophy cabinets for a handful of millionaires. The public never has any real say in what art they see."

On March 16, authorities at the Brooklyn Museum discovered and removed one of his paintings that depicted a colonial-era military officer holding a spray-paint can, with anti-war graffiti in the background. Museum officials said the incidents did not raise security concerns and believe they have enough guards and other monitoring systems.

Banksy, who refused to reveal his real name, has sold thousands of books of his artwork in Europe, where he has also had successful gallery shows.