A resident of the Gaza Strip has been conned into selling a work painted by the ‘Street’ artist Banksy for a fraction of it’s true value. The mural depicting the Greek goddess Niobe, weeping for her slain children, was sprayed on the door, which was the last standing piece of the home of the Gaza man.
Rabie Darduna, whose home in Gaza City was levelled during the conflict told the BBC that a ‘local buyer’ gave Mr Darduna 700 shekels ($175; £118) for the door containing the mural. It is known that Banksy artworks sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The BBC reported that the Darduna family property was one of some 18,000 in Gaza that were destroyed during last year’s 50-day war, displacing 110,000 people, according to the United Nations. “It was a two-storey building, says Mr Darduna. “Then a young, foreign man came and painted on it.” Mr Darduna was approached by a group of men after the work of art grabbed media attention.
The buyers told the homeowner that they were “acting on behalf of the artist and wanted to buy the door, as it was part of a series of works”. “They said they wanted to put it in a museum in Gaza where everyone could see it,” Mr Darduna explains.
“One man told me: ‘We’re from the group that did it.’ They made me sign a paper. It said I agreed on 700 shekels. They pressured me and I accepted because I need the money.” Mr Darduna said, “This door is rightfully ours. They cheated us. It’s a matter of fraud. And we’re asking for the door to be returned.”
This is not the first time Banksy works have been removed from Gaza An art gallery in New York’s posh Hamptons has had several works by the street artist, bought for a song in Gaza. Two murals originally stenciled in the Palestine territory were removed with permission from the area by middlemen the London based Bankrobber Gallery. This practice is morally unacceptable to many art professionals. Pest Control, Banksy’s authentication board will not officially validate works that have been removed from their original locations. Anyone purchasing these dubious works should be ostracised or at least held morally responsible along with the galleries selling them and the people who removed them in the first place. The Keszler Gallery owner, Stephan Keszler is a likely buyer for the most recent Banksy work.
Photo: Courtesy of banksy.com all rights reserved