(MoneyWatch) A few lucky tourists wandering through New York's Central Park this weekend picked up artwork for peanuts that experts say is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The tourists, seemingly unknowingly, bought original, signed pieces of art by the popular, but elusive, British street artist Banksy for as little as $30 apiece. The artist later posted pictures and video of the shoppers on his website, confirming the work was really his.
Art dealer Richard Tokatly with London's Artificial Gallery deals in work by Banksy. He said that based on what he could see from the pictures, the pieces that sold in the park this weekend are worth anywhere between $45,000 and $110,000. "These are quite simple white canvases, very little freehand work involved. Nevertheless they're still original pieces -- signed Banksys."
One tourist, a man from Chicago who said he needed something for the walls of his new house, bought four pieces at $60 apiece. Based on Tokatly's estimation, as a whole they could be worth as much as $450,000. "Quite a good day of shopping, I'd say," Tokatly said.
The buzz from New York has heightened the already intense public attention on the popular artist, whose real identity is one of the art world's most closely guarded secrets. Acoris Andipa with Andipa Galleries in London said their phones have been ringing off the hook all day. "Whether it's the first artwork they've ever considered buying, or whether it's for our established, major, international collectors, they want a Banksy."
Andipa added that Banksy strikes a chord with people in ways unlike any other artist. "Of all the artists that I have in my collection, from Picasso to Damien Hirst, and many, many other contemporary artists for that matter, none of them evoke this attention, and questioning, and humor all at the same time, rolled into one. That's what Banksy does."
What makes Banksy so popular? "He's sort of very in touch with current sentiments that are prevailing in the world -- economically, politically, socially," Tokatly said. "He's not just producing paintings to hang on a wall. People look at them, analyze them in a certain way. There's more to his work than what you see on the actual pieces of canvas or paper."
In posting the pictures of the sale this weekend on his website, the artist noted that it would not be repeated. "Please note: This was a one off. The stall will not be there again today."
While the pop-up sale may not be back in Central Park, Andipa said continue to expect the unexpected from Banksy. "It was brilliantly Banksy," he said. And for those lucky tourists, "I hope they bought it for all the right reasons, which is all about the art. Congratulations."