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So You Want to Buy a Banksy? Read These Collector's Tips First

Images Via Patricia Guarch Wise
Images Via Patricia Guarch Wise

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Window shoppers, welcome to the world of art auctions where the drama is high and the champagne is free. The best part? You don't have to have a couple hundred grand sitting in your checking account to participate.

Starting Friday you can check out the only street art auction in the world right here in Wynwood. Whether you're just window shopping or are interested in buying an authentic Kenny Scharf, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Banksy or Speedy Graphito - Kanye and Jay-Z collect him – piece, you can join in on the fun. Check out the items for auction over the weekend and then come back on Tuesday and watch the drama unfold as the auction goes live.

We caught up with Shantelle Rodriguez, business manager for the start-up auction house in charge of the event, Fine Art Auctions Miami (FAAM), at LMNT in Wynwood to talk about shopping for art and what to expect if you come to an auction. — Patricia Guarch Wise

So what should I expect? Is it like in the movies where people have a paddle and it gets really heated?
It can be! You come and sign in at the table, we take your photo I.D., your information and we give you a paddle and when your piece comes up you raise your paddle against someone until you win or you have reached your max and don't want to bid anymore.

Is this a spectator sport? Can someone feel comfortable just coming to watch the drama?
Oh yeah! I think a lot more people should come and watch. I've had friends tell me they don't want to come because they don't have the money to buy, but we just want people to come and see. When my boyfriend first came he was afraid to touch his hair or something incase they confused it for a bid but don't worry that would never happen.

What does it mean to buy a piece of street art?
For me this is one of the most exciting forms to buy because you're taking home something that was created on a wall or a scrap piece of metal or something that has been repurposed and was out in public already.

Let's say it was a piece that was on a wall like we see in Wynwood. Would you be taking home a photo of the piece or an actual piece of wall?
We have a few Banksy works and two of them are walls. One of them is actually pretty manageable; it's in a nice framed case. Another one is from the New York residency we did in October and that is like an actual chunk of wall. It's very large.

How big are we talking?
It weighs 7,000 pounds.

If you bought that and took it home with you, would you like put it outside in your backyard?
What we hope is that it gets collected by an institution like a museum, usually that's where large scale works fit best. I hope they're all in museums so that people can still enjoy them in public. But there are always the collectors with huge homes that can fit these things.

One of the other works at the auction is a wall in the Design District that hasn't been removed yet. When the wall is being demolished later this year it will be delivered to whoever bought it.

So these pieces have some wear and tear?
Right. That's part of the reason why they get removed and sold. Some people disagree, but I think it's a good way to preserve them in history.

The sale of street art is contentious? There's some argument that it was, by nature, temporary and shouldn't be preserved and sold?
There's a lot of controversy over selling street art. Some people think that it shouldn't be taken out of its original context. But there's still a market for it.

This auction might not be the best place for someone looking to break into investing in and buying art but, in general, how do you think people should get started shopping for art?
Don't make any moves too soon. Do as much research as possible. You don't have to do "book research" but going out to galleries and museums and seeing as much art as you can will help you know what you really like. You'll acquire a taste from knowing about it and can make a more confident decision. Eventually, you'll just have to choose something that you like and that speaks to you because it's not always profitable to resell it.

How would you describe your personal taste?
I always look for something that's unique. I try and look for an artist that's doing something different. If I can look at it and see another artist in it in a direct way then I don't see that artist as a pioneer in a movement.

Do you think your personal taste in other things, like fashion, is influenced by the art you like?
The art you collect, and for those who make art, the art you make, is an expression of yourself and that's the same thing with clothing. I think they both reflect your personality and that's why not every one likes the same art and clothing.

Do you have any galleries that you recommend for someone looking to check out what's going on in the Miami art scene?
Just going to the Wynwood Art Walks would help because you can see so much. It's like art overload but then you can go back and visit the galleries that made an impression on you. In the Design District: Markowicz Fine Art. Gregg Sheinbaum in Wynwood has a great street art collection.
̭ Fine Art Auctions Miami [Official Site]