A lot of art critics and government officials would argue that so called street art is nothing more than just glorified graffiti at best and acts of vandalism at worst. It is not uncommon for even the most famous pieces of street art to be painted over by council contractors or the owners of the buildings on which they were painted. Even so this street art has risen in popularity and the public consciousnessness very in recent years and this is great, although not solely, due to the elusive guerrilla artist known as Banksy.
I'm sure you will have seen copies of his work printed countless times on canvases and t shirts and maybe if you have been lucky you will have seen some of his original work while it survived. Even though Banksy himself does not use copies of his work for commercial purposes (he even gives away free copies of his prints in the "shop" section of his website) original pieces are being sold for vast sums of money. For example online bidding for a wall that Banksy had painted on in January 2008 closed with a final price of £ 208,100, after 69 bids. Even though the owner of the wall had estimated that to remove the piece it would cost an extra £ 5,000, which was to be paid by the buyer. Banksy's work is also popular with a number of celebrities, for example at a show he staged in Los Angeles Angelina Jolie was reported to have spent £ 200,000 on some of his work. Christina Aguilera also bought three works at Banksy's Soho gallery in April 2006 for £ 25,000. More recently a piece of Banksy's work that Kate Moss has bought for £ 80,000 was stolen from her home.
It seems that no matter what the criticisms and government thinks of street art it is for the moment big business for Banksy, his fellow street artists and the people who sell it for them even though more than this Banksy's work and his liberal view on copyright has allowed hundreds of small businesses to develop and begin to flourish selling everything from Banksy prints to Banksy bags to Banksy t-shirts and these I think are the real winners.