Entertainment

Gaza man 'tricked' into selling Banksy painting for $222 US

A 33-year-old Gaza man says he has been duped into selling a valuable work by British graffiti artist Banksy for about $222 US to a local artist.

'I did not know that it was this valuable,' said Rabie Dardouna who sold door with mural on it

A Palestinian teen stands next to the frame of a destroyed doorway, on which British street artist Banksy is believed to have painted an image of a goddess holding her head in her hand. The man who owned the door, Rabea Darduna, is lamenting his misfortune Wednesday after selling the door to to a local artist without realizing that the image on it could be worth a small fortune. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

A 33-year-old Gaza man says he has been duped into selling a valuable work by British graffiti artist Banksy for about $200 US to a local artist.

A metal door that depicted a Greek goddess, presumably painted by British street graffiti artist Banksy, was standing on the rubble of a destroyed building damaged in last summer's Israel-Hamas war, east of Jebaliya. A local painter has succeeded in purchasing the Banksy original for less than $200. (Adel Hana/AP Photo)
The popular street artist is believed to have sneaked into Gaza earlier this year, leaving behind four murals, including one drawn on a metal door that depicted the Greek goddess Niobe cowering against the rubble of a destroyed house. The painting, titled Bomb Damage, was drawn on a door, the last remaining part of a two-story house belonging to the Dardouna family in northern Gaza.

Unaware of the work's value, Rabie Dardouna said Tuesday he was tricked into selling the door to an eager local artist for just 700 shekels, or about $222. Banksy's works have been valued as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I did not know that it was this valuable. I heard it can be sold for millions," Dardouna said. "Now I want the door back."

Dardouna said he didn't even know who the British artist was and initially didn't pronounce Banksy's name correctly.

Buyer wants to 'preserve it from damage'

The Gaza artist who bought the door, Belal Khaled, said he did not mean to trick anyone. He said he just wanted to protect the painting and had no intention of profiting.

"I bought the painting to protect its artistic value and preserve it from damage," Khaled told The Associated Press. "Another reason is to display it in other places as well. I don't have any monetary interest in this."

He said he has been in touch with Banksy's representatives, hoping to get a clearance to showcase the mural in Gaza art exhibits.

The debate over the issue has heated up on Facebook, with Palestinian activists and journalists accusing the buyer of tricking the Dardounas while others have defended him for buying it legally. Khaled agreed to show reporters the mural on condition that its location not be revealed.

The Dardouna home was one of 18,000 destroyed in the 50-day war between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers last summer. Banksy is a critic of Israel and he has created works in Gaza and the West Bank meant to draw attention to the plight of the Palestinians.

Banksy's mysterious visit

A Palestinian woman works with her children near a mural of a playful-looking kitten, presumably painted by British street graffiti artist Banksy, is seen on a wall of destroyed which was destroyed in last summer's Israel-Hamas war, in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. (Adel Hana/Associated Press)
Other Banksy works spotted in Gaza after the mystery visit were a mural of a playful kitten and of children swinging from a military watchtower.

Banksy publicist Jo Brooks said at the time that the artist entered Gaza through a tunnel from Egypt, though such a route is extremely difficult and dangerous.

On a previous visit to the region he drew a painting of a girl pulled upward by balloons on Israel's West Bank separation barrier.
A mural of children using an Israeli army watch tower as a swing ride, presumably painted by British street graffiti artist Banksy, is seen on a wall at main wall at the main road in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. (Adel Hana/Associated Press)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now