Channel 4 forced to defend itself after ‘fake Banksy’ is sold for £250k on The Greatest Auction
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Channel 4 has defended itself after a 'fake Banksy' was sold for thousands on The Greatest Auction.
Sold for a staggering £250,000, the piece in question features a stencilled black rat - a very well-known Banksy motif - with the text 'Never liked this Banksy' scrawled in red ink across it.
The piece is said to be a tongue-in-cheek tribute to his iconic 'Never liked The Beatles' artwork that coincided with the Liverpool Biennial back in 2004
However, art collector Jeff Salmon, 70, has raised some concerns after reports that he was told he was not required to be present when Channel 4 was filming the auction scenes.
He had reportedly offered to stand up during the sale and declare the pricey artwork as a forgery - referencing testimony from a firm involved in the piece's restoration.
Production company Curve Media has since denied any alleged link between Salmon's absence from the auction scenes and his comments to chief executive Camilla Lewis.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "Jeff wanted to stand up and stop the auction declaring the work to be not genuine. We already knew there were issues around the Banksy and that these were going to feature in the programme.
"Furthermore, the auctions are not produced and therefore Camilla explained his 'play' wasn’t appropriate. The information from Jeff was passed on to the production team who again looked into the work’s provenance but were unable to find anything beyond this small mention on that particular website."
The spokesperson told LADbible: "The production team spoke to a number of experts and could not get a definitive answer as to whether this was or was not a work by Banksy so the inclusion of the work in the programme was framed around the fact that these pieces are selling for huge sums of money despite this uncertainty.
"The programme invited a number of potential buyers, many of whom were experienced art dealers, to view and potentially bid on the lot. As was shown on the programme, there was not a consensus."
Talking a little more about the primetime show, the spokesperson told LADbible: "The Greatest Auction brings together sellers with fascinating items and collectors and dealers who are prepared to spend their own money for the right object.
"Whether they buy or sell is completely up to them."
They added: "Although the auction house is constructed for the series, the auctions are not produced. Each is led by an experienced auctioneer and how they appear in the series accurately reflects what happened."
In the episode, the show's commentary did point to the certain challenges they faced when it came to verifying the authenticity of the artwork - which was removed from a carpark back in 2016.
Fellow street artist, Silent Bill, from Liverpool, has since claimed he was the real creator behind the 'Never liked Banksy' piece.
With that said, the winning bidder, Robert Barton, has disclosed he was somewhat comforted by a general lack of claims from anyone else declaring they were the actual creator.
Barton told The Guardian exactly why he didn't feel misled before purchasing the high-price item: "I believe there is enough doubt thrown on it that it is makes me nervous but I stand by the fact that until someone proves it is not Banksy it remains Banksy.’