A link to an online auction for the NFT (non-fungible token) was posted on a now-deleted page of banksy.co.uk. The auction was ended early after the buyer offered 90 per cent more than rival bidders.
The prominent NFT collector – who wanted to remain anonymous – told BBC News he suspects Banksy’s site was hacked, and that he was the victim of an elaborate scam.
He says the hacker returned all the money except for the transaction fee of around £5,000 on Monday evening.
The Banksy fan, who uses the online name Pranksy, added that he thinks the hacker may have got scared which is why he returned his money. “The refund was totally unexpected,” he said, “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 explained that he was first alerted to the auction on Monday morning (August 30) by an anonymous person on social network Discord. Steered toward Banksy’s website, he landed on new NFT page which included a link to an auction site selling an NFT called Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster.
After entering a bid far above his rivals the auction ended swiftly and the funds – in cryptocurrency Ethereum – were sent to the scammer.
Banksy’s team told the BBC that “any Banksy NFT auctions are not affiliated with the artist in any shape or form”.
The new mural, which appeared this month, depicted two children on an inflatable dinghy blowing in the wind.
The local council has now removed the mural, citing the death of three-year-old Ava-May Littleboy, who died on the nearby Gorleston beach in 2018 from head injuries after her inflatable trampoline burst.