After a blizzard of speculation and debate over identity rights, eBay announced on Wednesday that it had removed a listing in which a user was attempting to sell the identity of legendary street artist Banksy for $1 million.
"EBay removed the listing because it didn’t abide by our listing and user policies," the company said in a statement, without elaborating on what particular policies the seller violated. The site’s rules, however, ban the sale of personal information as well as IDs, so the detective work isn’t exactly a job for Sherlock.
In a cached version of the now-deleted auction, however, seller jaybuysthings said eBay previously deleted his listing because he was not selling anything tangible. He updated the listing to sell a piece of paper with Banksy’s identity written on it, but that does not appear to have appeased eBay.
Moviefone contacted jaybuysthings directly, and the following transpired:
"We contacted jaybuysthings via email to find out what happened. The listing had been previously pulled because the seller wasn’t offering any kind of real, tangible product (hence the piece of paper). When we identified who we were and asked why it had been torn down a second time, someone (email name listed as "Unknown, Unknown") replied asking for proof of our professional affiliation. We shared the link to our original story about the eBay auction as identification and received this response, with a picture attached (see it bigger in the gallery below) around 3 AM today:
"I spent 3 years finding the answer.
I was paid off, now I can tell you nothing.
All I can give you is this photograph."
The original eBay listing had the following statement:
"If you win this auction I will mail you a piece of paper revealing the true identity of ‘Banksy.’ I have uncovered his identity by matching up the prices of his sold pieces to corresponding tax records. I will reveal no more details," jaybuysthings wrote. "The winner of this auction is the only person I will ever share this information with. The piece of paper will say his name, nothing more. I give you 100% assurance that it is most certainly the full name of the street artist known as ‘Banksy.’"
Banksy is an iconic street artist who emerged in the early 1990s, creating subversive and thought-provoking stencil drawings placed on various buildings around Bristol and London. His works have been on display at several exhibitions, attracting a variety of celebrity buyers and a wave of inspired street artists, but his identity has never been revealed.
Last year, Banksy was featured in the documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop," though careful steps were taken to assure that his identity was obscured as he shared his process in Los Angeles and throughout Europe.