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Gaza resident sells a door, unwittingly parts with a Banksy masterpiece

Banksy Gaza

When Rabea Darduna’s Gaza home was destroyed in last summer’s war, he says he felt he was left with nothing. Only a doorway and a door. He sold the door to bring in some money to care for his six children, not realizing the prize he had.

“We sold it as we would sell an iron door,” Darduna said, “for $175. And the man took it.”

Darduna says he was duped into believing the door was a normal door when it was really a canvas for Banksy, one of the world’s most famous graffiti artists, who had painted a Greek goddess with her head in her hand. The door was likely worth a small fortune — a fortune Darduna gave away for a fraction of its value.

“Things started becoming clear that the artist is worldwide famous, and he drew it secretly,” said Darduna. “[The buyer] used us. My house is demolished. We’re destroyed emotionally. We ask him to return the door.”

Banksy’s graffiti in Gaza has become an attraction after he visited in February and painted a series of political messages. His works adorn walls and homes turning rubble into riches. Some of Banksy’s art has sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Banksy has never revealed his identity, but he is an English graffiti artist who began displaying his work in the early 1990s. His street art often portrays political and social messages.

Mohammed Alshanbari says he’s had offers for Banksy’s portrait of a cat playing with a ball of mangled metal, but he refuses to sell.

In text accompanying the image on his official website, Banksy wrote: “A local man came up and said ‘Please — what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website — but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”

Alshanbari says he’s looking after the mural on the wall where his house once stood.

“A lot of people showed up and people asked to buy it, but I’m keeping it, and I won’t sell it,” he says. “It’s a graffiti from the most famous artist in the world, and I can’t give it away. It stands where the house used to stand. I cleared a lot of rubble, but left the wall.”

Meanwhile, Darduna stares at the rubble of his house, wondering whether he can reclaim the treasure he never knew was his.

 

Banksy’s Spy Booth graffiti vandalised weeks after it was bought by millionaire property developer

The piece, which targets the issue of Government surveillance, was daubed with red and silver letters

Art lovers are in a “race against time” to save a Banksy mural which targets the issue of Government surveillance, after the piece was vandalised.

Letters in silver and dark red paint were sprayed on the piece, called Spy Booth, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, overnight.

Spy Booth shows three 1950s-style agents, wearing brown trench coats and trilby hats, using devices to tap into conversations at a telephone box.

Local business leaders joined forces to protect the artwork from being sold to an American investor, who wished to remove it from the wall.

Millionaire property developer Hekmat Kaveh, who lives in the town, stepped in to buy the piece, which had a £1 million asking price.

Graffiti appeared over Spy Booth, which is painted on the side of a house situated a few miles from GCHQ, where the UK’s surveillance network is based.

The artwork had previously been protected with anti-graffiti paint, though the dark red and silver letters could still seep through it.

Banky's Spy Booth vandalised.

Banky’s Spy Booth vandalised.

 

Residents armed with toothbrushes and cloths have attempted to remove the graffiti but experts are set to complete the task tomorrow.

Mr Kaveh said a clear perspex would then be placed over the piece, which he intends to keep at its current location.

“I am absolutely appalled at the graffiti,” he said. “But it has only given me more determination to make sure that we, Save The Banksy, do actually save it – not just from movement but from vandals.

“I have put up money for the purchase. I can’t divulge how much – that is the arrangement between the parties.

“Everybody knows that the asking price was £1 million based on previous Banksy amounts but I can’t say if it was above or below that.”

Mr Kaveh said he expected to gain ownership of Spy Booth “within days”, following a lengthy legal process.

The piece appeared overnight in April, with Banksy later officially confirming it on a link titled Q&A on his website.ABanksy mural

Banksy mural in Cheltenham

 

Angela De Souza, of campaign group Save The Banksy, described the process to restore the artwork as a “race against time”.

“Everybody is just really, really upset,” Mrs De Souza said. “We were worried about securing the piece but we didn’t expect an attack so soon.

“The Banksy is protected by anti graffiti paint but we are in a race against time because the paint could seep through the layer of protection and ruin the artwork.”

Shocked locals visited the site to express their anger at the damage.

Builder Martin Burnett, 48, said he was “furious” the Banksy had not been removed from the building.

“It should have been taken off the wall and put in a museum for everyone to view it there,” he said.

“It should have been taken away instead of being left here for this idiot to come and do this.”

Gloucestershire Police were called to the Banksy at 8am today, with officers maintaining a presence in the area since then.

Detective Inspector Angela Middlewood said: “We have received a report regarding the Banksy artwork in Cheltenham. Officers are at the scene and enquiries are being carried out.

“I would like to take this opportunity to ask anyone who was in the area last night or in the early hours of this morning and saw something out of the ordinary, to contact us on 101.”

 

Banksy letter confirms Bristol youth club can keep Mobile Lovers painting

 Banksy Ad

A youth club which was facing closure is now celebrating a potential £2million windfall thanks to a painting by mysterious street artist Banksy.

After weeks of wrangling, the enigmatic street artist has told the Bristol’s Broad Plain Boys’ Club they can keep his Mobile Lovers painting.

He wrote in a letter to Dennis Stinchcombe, who has worked at the club for 39 years, that he would be ‘chuffed if the piece could help in some way’.

‘This was meant to be a small visual gift for the area – but apparently a financial one would have been more useful,’ the letter says.

‘I don’t normally admit to committing criminal damage, but seeing as it looks like charges won’t be brought anytime soon you have my blessing to do what you feel is right with the piece.’

Banksy Letter

The piece, showing a couple embracing while checking their mobile phones, appeared on a council-owned wall in Clement Street, Bristol, a month ago.

Mr Stinchcombe moved it into a corridor at the inner-city club before it was removed by police and later given to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, where it currently remains.

Banksy Youth Club

‘Banksy has been a saviour of this club and I think he appreciates my tenacity,’ said a delighted Mr Stinchcombe.

‘Now that we know that it is genuine and everything has been done right we can now look to what we can do with it.

‘We will now look at the various valuers and auction houses to see about the best values for the piece.

‘It is fantastic. This thing will safeguard this club for the rest of its days.’