The elusive Street Artist Banksy has had his website hacked, resulting in the sale of a $336,000 NFT to a collector who was duped into thinking he was buying a genuine Banksy NFT artwork. The scam came to light on Monday when the British collector found an NFT purporting to be by Banksy advertised through the artist’s official website.
Any Banksy NFT auctions are not affiliated with the artist in any shape or form – Pest Control
A page linking to an online auction for the NFT was posted on a now-defunct page on the banksy.co.uk website. The collector ended the auction early by offering 90% more than rival bidders. Banksy’s official spokesperson said, “Any Banksy NFT auctions are not affiliated with the artist in any shape or form”.
The artwork depicts a ‘Punk’ character smoking a cigarette with three smokestacks in the background. Entitled ‘Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster’, the NFT is an 8-bit style image similar to images made famous by Super Mario. It appears to be a statement on climate change, a subject close to Banksy’s heart.
Tokenised artwork has proliferated over the lockdown period, with one NFT realising $16m at a Christie’s auction. An NFT is a digital certificate of ownership that can take many forms. The artwork is virtual, and copyright usually remains the property of the creator.
The hacker has now returned all the money except for the sellers premium, a fee of around £5,000. The NFT collector, whose online name is Pranksy, told the BBC, “The whole episode was bizarre. The hacker may have got scared”. “The refund was totally unexpected; I think the press coverage of the hack plus the fact that I had found the hacker and followed him on Twitter may have pushed him into a refund. “I feel very lucky when a lot of others in a similar situation with less reach would not have had the same outcome,” he said. He added he was first alerted to the auction by an anonymous person in his community on the social network Discord on Monday morning.
Banksy’s official site had a new page added. It was called NFT and included a link to an auction site selling an NFT called Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster. After Pranksy put in a bid above his rivals the auction ended and the cryptocurrency Ethereum funds were sent to the scammer. “It does seem to be some hack of the site. I confirmed the URL on PC and mobile before bidding. I only made the bid because it was hosted on his site. “When the bid was accepted I immediately thought it was probably fake,” he said. Banksy’s team did not respond to questions about how his site was compromised but said: “The artist Banksy has not created any NFT artworks.”
Pranksy added, “the person who alerted him and others to the Banksy NFT sale may have been the hacker themselves”.