Banksy’s piece-per-day residency on the streets of New York City has evolved from a cool public art project to a crazed, citywide scavenger hunt to what may be a police manhunt for the world’s most mysterious artist. The elusive street artist’s month-long residency, dubbed “Better Out Than In,” came to a standstill Wednesday morning when Banksy’s Instagram account posted this message: “Today’s art has been cancelled due to police activity.”
The post leaves many speculating as to whether the New York Police Department is amping up efforts to seek out and arrest Banksy, following New York Mayor Bloomberg’s recent comments that unauthorized graffiti should not be permitted. Last week, the NYPD admitted to scouring surveillance cameras of areas surrounding Banksy’s installments, which include painted walls in every borough, traveling installations, performance art and shilling his work for $60 a piece via accomplices in Central Park.
The Banksy frenzy kicked up a notch on Tuesday, when residents in Queens poured over a brick sculpture of a sphinx, deliberating whether it was a genuine “Banksy.” After it was determined to be the installment of the day, the man who discovered it hawked individual bricks for $100 each before claiming it as his own and hauling it off.
So it would not be too much of a stretch to imagine that today, fed up with the frenzy, Banksy is just pranking us all. Maybe his Instagram message is his featured artwork of the day, something no one can steal, erase or deface since it is entirely virtual. Whatever the case, Banksy has managed to keep New Yorkers guessing.