How did Ben Eine’s art get gifted to Obama by David Cameron? The answer begins with Anya Hindmarch. The London Evening Standard tells the story:
“She said, Samantha Cameron is a huge fan of your work and David is looking for something to give Barack Obama,’” Eine recalls. “Except she didn’t say Barack Obama’. She said the most powerful man in the world — think America!’ I was completely shocked and massively excited. Then after a while I thought, Yeah, I’m up for it.’”
Downing Street advisers rejected some graphic paintings featuring the words “Imaginative” and “Exciting” in case they made Cameron seem “a bit too keen”, before settling on Twenty First Century City. The canvas was duly donated to Downing Street (PMs don’t pay for presidential gifts, apparently), hurried onto a plane, and gifted to Obama. After which “media extravaganza! My phone started ringing, emails started pinging, everyone asking is this for sale, is that for sale?” His website, barely updated for two years, crashed under a massive number of hits.
Eine is diffident and balding, with a soft estuary accent and a lazy right eye, which he’s had since he was a child. It doesn’t impair his vision but seems somehow to accentuate his air of bafflement. He says he can’t put his prices up, post-Obama, because he might have to drop them again, and the art market wouldn’t stand that. So if anyone wants the same image as the President, in different colours, it’s still available in an edition of three for £2,500 each.
Is Ben Eine the New Banksy? (This Is London/London Evening Standard)