A unique mural by the British artist Banksy is to be made available as an NFT edition. The work, commonly known as Gorilla in a Pink Mask, was executed 20 years ago in Bristol, where Banksy grew up and cut his teeth as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s.
The company behind the initiative, Exposed Walls, which specialises in the preservation and renovation of street art, is also offering holders of the NFT the chance to own another one-off work by Banksy with a potential value of $1m themselves. This work will be announced when the Gorilla edition is sold out and be awarded randomly to one of the holders of the NFTs. They will choose to have the physical artwork or a unique NFT depicting it.
The Gorilla in a Pink Mask NFT will be fractionalised into the edition number. Owners will receive a certificate of authentication showing the mural segment on which the artwork appears. The concept is that you own part of a historical work by the artist instead of other platforms that only allow you to buy ‘shares’ in artworks. The focus is on collecting rather than investing, though, like any other NFT, it is anticipated they will be traded on platforms such as Opensea.
Dating from 2001, Gorilla in a Pink Mask is believed to be the first time Banksy portrayed a primate in his work and can be seen as a precursor to Devolved Parliament, 2009, which depicts chimpanzees and orangutans debating in the House of Commons. By then, monkeys had become a recurring motif in the artist’s work: they can be found listening to music on headphones or, in one case, preparing to detonate a bomb.
The artist uses them to draw parallels between humans and their closest relatives in the animal kingdom, employing them to critique power, corruption, and consumerism. Examples include Laugh Now, 2003, which showed a row of apes with sandwich-boards carrying the inscription Laugh Now, but one day we’ll be in charge; in another, Monkey Queen, 2003, one is used as a stand-in for Queen Elizabeth II.
‘Gorilla in a Pink Mask first appeared on the former North Bristol Social Club wall in Fishponds Road, Eastville, Bristol. This later became the Jalalabad Cultural Centre (Mosque), painted in 2011. In September 2020, it was removed by Exposed Walls, which now owns the work. Banksy street pieces are separate from the prints & canvas is overseen by pest control.
A spokesman for the company said: ‘Exposed Walls tends to focus on works that are on the verge of being lost to history, as was the case with Gorilla in a Pink Mask. Our intention is for this piece to one day be housed in a museum.’ A proportion of the sale proceeds will be donated to The Gorilla Organisation and Developing Health and Independence (DHI), a charity that helps disadvantaged people and those living on the margins of society turn their lives around.