Banksy opens homeware store after card company legal dispute

Graffiti artist Banksy says he has been forced to open his own homeware store following a legal dispute involving a greeting cards company.

The new store, called Gross Domestic Product, will span the windows of a former south London carpet shop and sell a range of "impractical and offensive" merchandise created by the artist.

In a statement, Banksy said the motivation behind the venture, on Church Street in Croydon, is "possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art".

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Banksy store appears in Croydon
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Banksy store appears in Croydon
CROYDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: A new installation by elusive artist Banksy is displayed on October 1, 2019 in Croydon, England. The shop names 'Gross Domestic Product' appeared over night and features the stab vest he designed for Stormzy's headline act at the Glastonbury Festival. A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
CROYDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: A new installation by elusive artist Banksy is displayed on October 1, 2019 in Croydon, England. The shop names 'Gross Domestic Product' appeared over night and features the stab vest he designed for Stormzy's headline act at the Glastonbury Festival. A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
CROYDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: A new installation by elusive artist Banksy is displayed on October 1, 2019 in Croydon, England. The shop names 'Gross Domestic Product' appeared over night and features the stab vest he designed for Stormzy's headline act at the Glastonbury Festival. A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
CROYDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Members of the public queue to look at a new installation by elusive artist Banksy on October 1, 2019 in Croydon, England. The shop names 'Gross Domestic Product' appeared over night and features the stab vest he designed for Stormzy's headline act at the Glastonbury Festival. A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
CROYDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Members of the public queue to look at a new installation by elusive artist Banksy on October 1, 2019 in Croydon, England. The shop names 'Gross Domestic Product' appeared over night and features the stab vest he designed for Stormzy's headline act at the Glastonbury Festival. A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
CROYDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Members of the public queue to look at a new installation by elusive artist Banksy on October 1, 2019 in Croydon, England. The shop names 'Gross Domestic Product' appeared over night and features the stab vest he designed for Stormzy's headline act at the Glastonbury Festival. A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
CROYDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Members of the public queue to look at a new installation by elusive artist Banksy on October 1, 2019 in Croydon, England. The shop names 'Gross Domestic Product' appeared over night and features the stab vest he designed for Stormzy's headline act at the Glastonbury Festival. A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
CROYDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: A police van drives past as members of the public queue to look at a new installation by elusive artist Banksy on October 1, 2019 in Croydon, England. The shop names 'Gross Domestic Product' appeared over night and features the stab vest he designed for Stormzy's headline act at the Glastonbury Festival. A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
A shopfront displays a mini exhibition by secretive British artist, Banksy with the sign 'Gross Domestic Product', in Croydon, south London on October 1, 2019. - In a post on Banksy's Instagram feed he wrote 'this showroom is for display purposes only'. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / various sources / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Toys featuring refugees are seen in a shopfront displaying a mini exhibition by secretive British artist, Banksy with the sign 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, south London on October 1, 2019. - In a post on Banksy's Instagram feed he wrote 'this showroom is for display purposes only'. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A mock tomb stone is seen in a shopfront displaying a mini exhibition by secretive British artist, Banksy with the sign 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, south London on October 1, 2019. - In a post on Banksy's Instagram feed he wrote 'this showroom is for display purposes only'. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
People look at a shopfront displaying a mini exhibition by secretive British artist, Banksy with the sign 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, south London on October 1, 2019. - In a post on Banksy's Instagram feed he wrote 'this showroom is for display purposes only'. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / various sources / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
People look at a shopfront displaying a mini exhibition by secretive British artist, Banksy with the sign 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, south London on October 1, 2019. - In a post on Banksy's Instagram feed he wrote 'this showroom is for display purposes only'. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man takes a photograph of a shopfront displaying a mini exhibition by secretive British artist, Banksy with the sign 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, south London on October 1, 2019. - In a post on Banksy's Instagram feed he wrote 'this showroom is for display purposes only'. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / various sources / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
People look at a shopfront displaying a mini exhibition by secretive British artist, Banksy with the sign 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, south London on October 1, 2019. - In a post on Banksy's Instagram feed he wrote 'this showroom is for display purposes only'. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
People takes pictures of a stab vest, worn by Stormzy during his Glastonbury performance, in a shopfront displaying a mini exhibition by secretive British artist, Banksy, with the sign 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, south London on October 1, 2019. - In a post on Banksy's Instagram feed he wrote 'this showroom is for display purposes only'. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A disco ball police helmet in one of the departments in a homeware store, Gross Domestic Product, that is being launched in south London by the graffiti artist Banksy. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 1, 2019. See PA story ARTS Banksy. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Body armour and police riot helmets in Gross Domestic Product, a homeware store that is being launched in South London by the graffiti artist Banksy.
A passer-by looks at Ultra HD - a display in Gross Domestic Product, a homeware store that is being launched in South London by the graffiti artist Banksy.
One of the departments in a homeware store, Gross Domestic Product, that is being launched in South London by the graffiti artist Banksy.
Merchandise in Gross Domestic Product, a homeware store that is being launched in South London by the graffiti artist Banksy.
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He said: "A greetings cards company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art, and attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally.

"I think they're banking on the idea I won't show up in court to defend myself."

Banksy homeware store launch
Welcome mats made from life vests salvaged from the shores of the Mediterranean (Banksy/PA)

Items being sold in the shop include a Union Jack stab-proof vest, worn by the rapper Stormzy during his Glastonbury performance, and a model of Frosties cereal character Tony the Tiger, re-imagined as a rug.

Welcome mats made from life vests salvaged from the shores of the Mediterranean, which have been hand-stitched by women in detainment camps in Greece, are also on display.

Mark Stephens, an arts lawyer and founder of the Design and Artists Copyright Society, is advising Banksy on what he describes as "frankly ludicrous litigation".

Banksy homeware store launch
Merchandise in the shop window of the homeware store (Banksy/PA)

He said: "Banksy is in a difficult position because he doesn't produce his own range of shoddy merchandise and the law is quite clear – if the trademark holder is not using the mark, then it can be transferred to someone who will."

As a solution to the issue, Mr Stephens proposed that Bansky began his own range of merchandise and opened a shop.

Mr Stephens said the card company, who he refused to name, initiated the legal proceedings about 12 months ago.

Although people will be able to visit the store for the next two weeks, its doors will never open and the lights will remain on 24 hours a day.

Banksy said: "The proceeds from these products will go towards buying a new migrant rescue boat to replace the one confiscated by Italian authorities.

"So you may well be committing a criminal offence by purchasing them.

"Sometimes you go to work and it's hard to know what to paint, but for the past few months I've been making stuff for the sole purpose of fulfilling trademark categories under EU law. It's not a very sexy muse."

Other items for sale include disco balls made from used police riot helmets and a toddler's counting toy where children are encouraged to load wooden migrant figures inside a haulage truck.

Items on display in the shop, which are only available to buy online, range in price from a £10 signed spray paint can to a handbag made from a house brick.

Banksy said despite trying to defend his artistic rights in this particular case, he has not changed his position on copyright.

He added: "I still encourage anyone to copy, borrow, steal and amend my art for amusement, academic research or activism. I just don't want them to get sole custody of my name."

Banksy homeware store launch
A stab-proof vest worn by Stormzy is featured in Gross Domestic Product, a homeware store that is being launched in South London by the graffiti artist Banksy (Banksy/PA)

Amongst the crowds gathered outside the shop on Tuesday was Janet Jones, 62, who lives locally.

She said: "It's pretty incredible. The shop has been empty for a long while.

"I'm pretty sure it was empty yesterday, It's just happened so quickly."

Four security guards, dressed in brown trench coats, were stood outside the store.

They told PA news agency that they did not know who they were working for or how long the job would last.

Oliver Lewis, Croydon council's cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: "It's really exciting, there's a lot of people out here generating a lot of interest.

"It just popped up overnight. That's one of the great things about street art, it's something for everyone to enjoy."

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