Woman Bought a Print in 2003 for Around $100 That Turned Out To Be a Banksy

Amanda PeytonNorthwestern college sophomore Amanda Peyton wanted to decorate her dorm room wall in 2003. "As a result of having outgrown my freshman year style, I decided that the go-to room decor option, allposters.com, was officially lame. I could do better than an XXL Bob Marley poster draped over my bed," Peyton wrote this week on the website Medium.com.

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Peyton, who was inspired to blog about her experience after reading a story about art and technology published in a recent issue of The New York Times, recalled how she had been browsing a British website when she found a cool print of a girl hugging a bomb. Impulsively, she purchased it for around $100, the most she had ever spent on a wall decoration. When the print arrived in a poster tube, it was signed and hand-numbered by an artist named Banksy.

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At the time, Peyton didn't know that Banksy is a world famous British graffiti artist, painter, film director, and political activist, even selected by Time magazine for its 2010 "100 Most Influential People" list among the likes of Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, and Barack Obama. Banksy's work centers on graffiti with a stenciling technique depicting social and political messages on streets, walls, and bridges around the world. According to the UK's Telegraph, a metal panel spray-painted with military helicopter images by Banksy sold three times its estimated price of $159,800. And in 2012, "Bomb Love" —the piece owned by Peyton—sold for $15,863 (Banksy made multiples of the same print; no word on how many still exist.) The media has even coined the term "The Banksy Effect" to illustrate the artist's influence. Celebrities such as Christina Aguilera and Brad Pitt purchase his work.

While Peyton loved the print, her classmates thought it was "weird" and were afraid it would scare boys away from her dorm room. She packed it up and stored it at her parents' house where it sat for four years until Peyton moved into a house and caught the decorating bug. "And that's when I had the realization that perhaps I had stumbled onto something big. I knew this not because I meticulously followed art trends, but because I had read that Angelina Jolie had recently purchased some of Banksy's work. Surely if Angelina thinks this dude is cool, he must be," wrote Peyton. "Surely, if Angelina was buying this stuff, maybe someone else might too?"

So she paid $250 to get the print nicely framed and joined Twitter choosing a photo of the print as her avatar in the hopes that someone would recognize the girl and the bomb. Over the next five years, Peyton tried to get the word out about her find in the hopes of selling it but kept hitting a wall. "For the most part, the people I spoke with were total jerks. No one wanted to help me, probably because I was 'doing it wrong,'" she wrote.

"These days though, I am totally fine with my outsider status," wrote Peyton. "As of late, the Internet has told me that Banksy has become all the more famous and that his work has come to embody this contemporary period in American art. Perhaps more importantly, this image has cemented its place in my personal narrative — it represents who I have become over the past decade. Sometimes, people ask if my twitter avatar is supposed to be me (I wear ponytails a lot), and more and more, the answer is 'well….metaphorically….yeah.'"

Though Peyton still asks around, she says she's not really interested in selling the piece anymore. "It seems like me and Bomb Hugger are going to be together for life and I am pretty happy about it," she writes, adding that if nothing else, the print is a reminder that some of the best things in life are just dumb luck.

Yahoo! Shine asked the Winston Art Group, the largest independent art advisory and appraisal firm in the U.S. to weigh in on the print. According to an email sent by Kimball Higgs, Director of Art Advisory, based solely on the image provided and not having examined the work in person, the retail value would be around $10,000 to $15,000, maybe higher, depending on the print's condition. The sale value: Most likely in the $5,000-$7,000 range.

"Just like when you buy an apartment, you should really have professional guidance when selling a piece of art," says Elizabeth Von Habsburg, certified member of the Appraisers Association of America and Managing Director of the Winston Art Group. "When someone brings us a piece of art they've purchased we dig around to see if there are any old labels on the piece, its condition and wall power, then we compare it to what similar pieces have sold for to determine its fair market value. After that, we give the official value of the piece." The process can take anywhere from one to eight weeks and fees range depending on whether the seller is paying on an hourly basis or an advisory fee (a percentage of value for the work of art).

According to Von Habsburg, if you buy a piece of art with the intent to resell, make sure you get a clear bill of sale that shows title upon full payment. Information it should include: Any details about the work, the size, medium, title, history, and if it's been exhibited. And make sure if there is any problem with the art, that you have an agreement with the seller to return it within a certain amount of time.

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