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Banksy’s famous mural, Wall Street Rat: Let Them Eat Crack, was found in New York City in 2008. The phrase “let them eat crack” is taken from the famous quote attributed to Marie Antoinette, the French queen who allegedly said “let them eat cake” in response to hearing about starving French peasants. This quote represents the inability of elites to understand the plight of the common people due to their privileged lifestyle. The timing of this artwork coincided with public outrage over the behavior of financial elites.
In this mural a giant rat wearing a tie is holding an umbrella with one hand and a briefcase with the other. One hand is bloody and the phrase “let them eat crack,” prominently displayed in dark red color, is dripping as if it were scrawled using blood. Paper currency is falling out of the briefcase. Banksy uses the phrase to convey that the elites of Wall Street are out of touch with the common people, whose lives they ruin with their financial speculation. By using the word “crack” in the place of “cake” he reveals the addictiveness of money and power to these elites, and the blood symbolizes the crime and destruction resulting from such materialistic depravity.