His name is "Banksy" -- the rarely-seen British graffiti painter whose legions of fans see his work as great art. Banksy recently arrived in America and started what his website calls "an artist's residency on the streets of New York."
Each day during his "residency," Banksy is posting a snapshot of his latest project and includes the location for fans to check out. The work varies from simple stencils (like the one below, which adds a clever comment to an existing bit of graffiti) to large, detailed murals.
But the Banksy image posted Thursday has people flocking to the East New York section of Brooklyn -- the neighborhood with the city's highest crime rate. What image could bring art lovers to a section of the city where shootings occur so often that one resident described, “Gunshots in this area’s just like hearing the doorbell”?
It's a simple stencil on the side of a crumbling wall.
The well-placed, stenciled beaver appears to have chewed through the metal post holding up a "No Parking" sign.
Once the location of the latest "Banksy" got out, fans crossed the East River to view and photograph it. Seeing the regular stream of non-residents stopping by, local "entrepreneurs" quickly stepped in and turned the painting into a small business.
Some East New York residents declared themselves to be the "curators" of this single-painting museum. And by simply covering the beaver with cardboard and
extorting charging between $5 and $20, they found a heretofore unknown revenue stream. Instagram user CAPNYC recorded the process. (Content warning - the short clip contains strong language.)
How dangerous is the neighborhood? The Banksy beaver adorns a wall at the intersection of Pitkin Avenue and Bradford Street in East New York. The crime statistics graph from NeighborhoodScout.com shows this zip code has 880 crimes per square mile - more than 20 times the national median of just under 40 crimes per square mile.
A web search of the exact intersection where the Banksy artwork is posted turned up a Google image from 2011 that shows the how the wall looked before the stencil was painted, the "No Parking" sign is still standing, and two members of the NYPD standing on the corner.
Interested in learning more about Banksy? You can follow his month-long project on the streets of New York, though his website, BanksyNY.com.
Banksy's Oscar-nominated 2010 film "Exit Through The Gift Shop" introduced many people to the work of the street artist. He made the art house film for under $200,000 and it earned more than $5 million globally.
Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter @stuntbrain