I’ve long been a fan of Yoshitomo Nara’s work.
I got to see a few of his pieces in Cape Town a few years back. If I’d known what I know now, I would have snapped one or two up. They were selling for a measly R5 000 at the time.
Now, a Nara will cost you an arm and a leg. His famous ‘Knife Behind Back’ recently sold for $24,9 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.
Most of his decade-old drawings, like the ones that I would have invested in if I’d had any common sense at the time, are now worth thousands of dollars.
One lucky bar in New York also encountered Nara 10 years ago and thankfully had the good sense not to repaint.
CNN spoke to Tim Blum, an artist manager who has represented Nara since 1994, and who was with him at Niagara bar when this happened:
“He took a pen to the wall and everyone was kind of into it. It was a blur at the time because no one was thinking we should remember this 10 years later,” said Blum, adding that the “capper of the night” was Nara’s arrest by the NYPD after he drew graffiti at a subway station.
And take a pen to the wall he did. The result? A wall mural of Nara-esque figures right across from the bar counter. The figure closest to the door can be seen dancing with a speech bubble reading “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!” The phrase is a nod to the opening line of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by quintessential New York punk band The Ramones.
Nara went on to draw a girl by the women’s bathroom and a boy by the men’s bathroom, welcoming all the “cool girls and boys” to Niagara’s lavatories.
Move over, Banksy. It looks like you have some competition in the art world.
Speaking of Banksy – his weird London shop is now officially closed. The website that promised to sell you a range of Banksy merchandise is still not open for business and he remains disillusioned.
Now to get on that time machine so that I can go back and slap my past self for not investing in Nara’s art.
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