A Wall Street trader has followed through on his promise to give to the Sandy rebuilding effort even if Banksy didn’t lend his star power. Nelson Saiers, the hedge fund manager behind HeyBanksy.com, a scheme to get Banksy to bring publicity to ongoing Sandy recovery efforts, has decided to donate his money whether or not the graffiti artist delivers by the end of his residency this week.
The original plan was to give $100,000 to charity if Banksy took on a Sandy-related work during his “Better Out Than In” residency. Over the course of October, that number swelled to $242,000 as anonymous donors (“other Wall Street guys,” says Saiers) got in on the project.
Saiers decided to give up waiting on Banksy to follow through and donate his portion of the stash to World Vision, a Christian charity focused on the education and welfare of children living in poverty in the U.S. and abroad. The rest of the fund — $142,000 in total — is still tied to Banksy’s participation in the project.
“Those donations are still contingent on Banksy doing this piece,” explains Saiers.
Saiers announced the donation in a letter addressed to Banksy via HeyBanksy.com:
As the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy is upon us, I’ve decided to waive the criterion on my original letter and will donate the original $100,000 to World Vision to benefit underprivileged children in Sandy affected areas. At this point, the anonymous donors are waiting to see if you will accept the original offer before donating the remaining $142,000. As art is subjective, if you have already completed a piece fulfilling the requirement please contact me. Speaking of great art, during your residency if you haven’t seen Swoon’s Hurricane Sandy mural you should check it out. She’s doing an amazing thing.
The original offer spawned the website HeyNelson.com, an earnest plea for Saiers to turn his attention to artists who live and work in New York full-time, many of whom suffered in the aftermath of Sandy.
“Banksy would be an incredible ‘Get,’ but if he doesn’t respond to your letter, I bet we can find some transcendent New York City artists to raise awareness,” wrote Jeremy Redleaf, the New York multimedia artist behind HeyNelson.com.
Saiers and Redleaf are now in discussions on how to involve local artists in Sandy relief, a collaboration Saiers relishes.
“Art and commerce can in fact be friends!” wrote Redleaf in an email to Runnin’ Scared.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 29, 2013