Mr. Brainwash, whose real name is Thierry Guetta was born near Paris, in Sarcelles, in 1966. At the age of 15 he moved to Los Angeles. In 1999, he was triggered by the world of street art, during a trip to France where he got closer to his cousin, who is none other than the Parisian street artist Space Invader. Fascinated by video, Thierry Guetta then began to film all the escapades of graffiti artist at his side, accompanied by other street artists, such as Shepard Fairey. At this time, the videos do not have for vocation to be shown. He then started to practice graffiti himself and became Mr.Brainwash. His universe is a mixture between Banksy’s stencils and Andy Warhol’s imagery.
In 2009, he met British artist Banksy and helped him launch his Barely Legal exhibition in Los Angeles, an event that attracted the interest of celebrities and art collectors. The two artists then decided to make a documentary about the world of street artists, which until then had been shrouded in mystery. The images shot before were then edited and showed Invader, Banksy and Mr. Brainwash himself at work. From this collaboration came the Oscar-nominated docu-drama Exit through the Gift Shop (or Faites le Mur!). The film chronicles Mr. Brainwash’s meteoric rise in the urban art scene, and his works sold for astronomical sums, such as his portrait of Jim Morrison, which sold for $100,000, or his portrait of Charlie Chaplin, which was estimated to be worth $50,000. After the success of the film, Mr. Brainwash’s works became more and more sought after.
But history can also be taken in reverse. While it has been shown that Mr. Brainwash is not a fictional character, he is indeed fabricated by this film. Fiction has caught up with reality, making Mr.Brainwash a real actor in the art market.