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Former Mayor Lands in Controversy Over Banksy Work

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Former Mayor Lands in Controversy Over Banksy Work

Jón Gnarr

Jón Gnarr in 2011, showing a replica of the print. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Comedian and former Mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr has been the subject of criticism for taking a Banksy work home from the mayor’s office when he left the position in 2014, Vísir reports. Believing the work was worth millions, critics suggested that Jón should give it over to the city.

The work in question, created by well-known graffiti artist Banksy, depicts a protester with a bandana covering his face poised to throw a bouquet of flowers as if it were a weapon. Jón said he contacted Banksy through a third party to request a painting that he could hang up in the mayor’s office. After a prolonged correspondence, he received an email with an image attached that gave him permission to print the work and hang it up. “When I left the job I took the picture with me as a reminder of that time and didn’t think anything of it since then,” Jón stated.

Jón asserts the print holds no monetary value. “I didn’t think it was an issue because the picture is worthless and has limited value for anyone but me. Otherwise it would have never crossed my mind to take it with me and neither would the employees of the city hall, Reykjavík Art Museum, or my colleagues allowed that to happen if real value had been in question.”

Following the hullaballoo, Jón has stated that he plans to part with the work at the first opportunity “so that it and all it stands for don't bother anyone.” He also expressed his thanks to those who supported him through the matter.

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