Apparently, Our Theory About The Fake Banksy NFT Was Incorrect. Here’s New Info

A couple of weeks ago, a hacker with a heart of gold sold a fake Banksy NFT for 100 ETH and then gave the money back. They advertised the auction through Banksy’s official site. If the NFT was fake, someone hacked that site. Which seemed unlikely. Also, there is the issue of the alias that the scammed NFT collector uses. Pranksy, a play on words referencing the elusive graffiti artist Banksy mixed with the word “prank.” Which is what this whole situation is. 

Too many coincidences. Suspicious, we posed our theory:

“Was Pranksy targeted by Banksy and his team? If Banksy wanted to create worldwide headlines and comment on the NFT boom at the same time, a notorious art collector was the missing ingredient. Pransky’s prominence in the NFT community mixed with his name makes him an ideal target.”

It seemed to fit, but the case of the fake Banksy NFT never ceases to amaze. 

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Security Experts Warned Banksy About His Website’s Vulnerability

Luckily for us, the BBC is on the case. They interviewed Sam Curry, “a professional ethical hacker from the US and founder of security consultancy Palisade.” There seem to be too many “ethical hackers” in this story, but ok… Curry told them:

“I was in a security forum and multiple people were posting links to the site. I’d clicked one and immediately saw it was vulnerable, so I reached out to Banksy’s team via email as I wasn’t sure if anyone else had.

“They didn’t respond over email, so I tried a few other ways to contact them including their Instagram, but never received a response.”

These things happen. How many emails does Banksy’s team get? Did it pass their spam folder? Can we be sure they read it on time? The suspicious thing, though, is Mr. Curry’s description of the site’s vulnerability. It:

 “allowed you to create arbitrary files on the website” and post your own pages and content.

So, the flaw permitted the hackers to do exactly what they needed to do to advertise the fake Banksy NFT auction and not much more, huh? Interesting.

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Banksy Isn’t Responsible For The Fake Banksy NFT, Experts Say

Neither the artist’s official website nor the Pest Control website, even acknowledge the fake Banksy NFT. Something doesn’t feel right, though. The BBC felt our uneasiness and tried to put our concerns to rest. They consulted two Banksy experts and they both thought that the shoe didn’t fit. According to them, the elusive graffiti artist is not the mastermind behind the whole event. This is not a “Banksy stunt.” Professor Paul Gough, “principal and vice-chancellor of Arts University Bournemouth,” goes first:

“I don’t see it as a Banksy prank. The timing for me doesn’t work right, the context doesn’t feel appropriate. He’s just done his ‘Spraycation’ stunt where he bombed 10 sites in East Anglia, and put out a video on social media about it.

“That is a pretty major stunt and takes a lot of organising by a very professional crew, so I just don’t think the timings right here so soon after that.”

Here’s the Spraycation video, dated August 13th, 2021:

[embedded content]

It does seem like a “major stunt.” Does that mean that the fake Banksy NFT operation is out of the question? Or did Banksy went to work immediately after finishing his spraycation? Did the elusive graffiti artist strike again in the digital realm?

Second at bat is John Brandler, a Banksy collector, who provides another reason:

 “Banksy’s stunts are not malicious and they don’t hurt people.”

Good point, but let’s be honest, the incident didn’t really hurt Pranksy. The NFT collector got his ETH back,  was the subject of worldwide headlines, and still got to keep the fake Banksy NFT. It may be worth something, someday. 

Is this the last we’re going to hear about the fake Banksy NFT?

Featured Image: Screenshot of the fake Banksy NFT | Charts by TradingView

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Everything We Know About The Fake Banksy NFT That Sold For 100 ETH

Everything about the fake Banksy NFT story fits together like puzzle pieces. And it’s mysterious. And no one gets hurt. A feel-good story with a twist, if you will. First of all, the person who bought the fake Banksy NFT is known as Pranksy. That’s right, Pranksy. What are the odds? And it just gets weirder from there.

Related Reading | David Marcus Of Facebook Indicates Plans To Support NFTs

You see, Pranksy is a notorious NFT collector. Twitter gave him a blue checkmark, for what it’s worth. His prominence in the NFT community is what elevates this story. Was this person targeted? Pranksy bought the piece “Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster” knowing full well that there was risk involved. Even though Banksy’s official site hosted a page linking to the auction.

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Let’s quote Gizmondo with the 411:

“The forged piece of digital art popped up on Banksy’s official site on Tuesday morning under the now-deleted URL “banksy.co.uk/nft.html.” The only thing on the page was a JPEG of what was presumably Banksy’s take on the $1 billion dollar CryptoPunk hype train, featuring the artist’s usual kind of social commentary, this time about the awful carbon footprint that NFT artwork leaves behind.”

To be fair, Banksy’s “usual kind of social commentary” is usually much more poignant than what this piece offers. The fake Banksy NFT, “Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster,” is basically a CryptoPunks rip-off barking at the wrong cause. The NFT collector knew something felt off from the very beginning; “Is this… real?” was Pranksy’s first reaction.

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Who’s Behind The Sale Of The Fake Banksy NFT?

In the opensea NFT marketplace, the page that hosted the auction was under the name “gaakman.” The Art Newspaper offers information about the possible pseudonym.

“Suggestions that gaakmann could be Banksy because the artist used the pseudonym “Bryan S. Gaakman” when he entered a work into the RA summer exhibition in 2018 seemed far-fetched.”

Since that’s a known Banksy pseudonym and the link came from the official site, Pranksy proceeded. The NFT collector bid 100 ETH, orders of magnitude more than the highest bid at the time. The offer was immediately accepted. That’s when Pranksy knew something was wrong. “The link was removed from his website so it could have been a very elaborate hoax, my guess is that is what it will be, only time will tell!

Then, someone at the BBC contacted Pranksy and informed him that the fake Banksy NFT was indeed fake. “Hopefully I can get in touch with the team who represents him, if not it was fun entertainment for us all today,” Pranksy said via Twitter. Banksy’s Pest Control authentication team told the BBC, “any Banksy NFT auctions are not affiliated with the artist in any shape or form.

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The Return Of The Scammed ETH

Was this Pranksy person targeted? This is the turn. This is where it gets weird. Let’s quote Decrypt with the description:

“Then, in perhaps an equally strange turn of events, the scammer returned 97.69 ETH to Pranksy a little more than eight hours later. “No idea why [he returned the funds],” Pranksy told Decrypt. “I think I tracked him down, and he was made aware.”

Pranksy gave the BBC a more detailed description of what “tracked him down” means

“The refund was totally unexpected, I think the press coverage of the hack plus the fact that I had found the hacker and followed him on Twitter may have pushed him into a refund.

“I feel very lucky when a lot of others in a similar situation with less reach would not have had the same outcome,” he said.”

This is where the tables turned and Pranksy turned into the main suspect. The Art Newspaper accuses:

“The question, then, is who has masterminded the sale. Pranksy’s cover photo on Twitter is of a pixelated red and white aeroplane, not dissimilar in aesthetic to the crudely rendered NFT. When asked if he was in on the hoax, Pranksy denied any involvement. “No prank at all,” he told The Art Newspaper. So was he scammed? “I think so, but I wasn’t forced to bid. It’s the risk I took. No refunds on the blockchain!”

Pranksy is a pro. He was aware of the risks from day one.

Our Theory About The Fake Banksy NFT

A mysterious stranger Direct Messaged Pranksy to let him know about that one-in-a-lifetime auction. In the Decrypt story, they have screenshots of the DMs. Was this person targeted by Banksy and his team? If Banksy wanted to create worldwide headlines and comment on the NFT boom at the same time, a notorious art collector was the missing ingredient. Pransky’s prominence in the NFT community mixed with his name makes him an ideal target. 

Related Reading | TA: Ethereum Bulls Keeps Pushing, Why Rally Isn’t Over Yet

Of course, we have no way to prove any of this. Everything about the fake Banksy NFT story fits together like puzzle pieces, however.

Featured Image: Screenshot of the fake Banksy NFT | Charts by TradingView

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