Detroit Banksy could sell for more than Packard Plant
Back in 2010, I remember hearing the news that the elusive British street artist Banksy had been in Detroit, using the city as his urban canvas. At that time, the artist’s name was buzzing after the popularity of his acclaimed documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop — or was the graffiti-tour part of the marketing for the film, and was Bansky himself behind his own documentary? The artist, whose identity has been kept secret from the public, became a faceless face of the street art community — a post-modern prank that is as impressive as it is humorous.
If you’re a patron of street art, you may have felt a bit honored that Banksy would consider coming here to leave his mark. You may have even ventured out to snap photos before they were washed away or covered up. However, one piece was taken from its original spot by the 555 Gallery in Southwest Detroit — an 8-foot painting of a young boy holding a paint can and brush next to the message, “I remember when all this was trees,” at the site of the dilapidated Packard Plant. The 555 Gallery’s co-founder Carl W. Goines claims that it was out of a need to preserve the piece. Others defend that street art’s sole purpose is to remain in the street, in the original location where the artist intended, despite the risk of destruction.
Now, almost four years after Goines and his crew harvested the piece from its concrete cabbage patch, he is putting it up for sale. Goines has stated that they are “open to offers,” and that the proceeds would go toward expansion of the 555 Gallery. Once again, the issue is burning on tongues in Detroit’s art community and Goines is getting the brunt of it, perhaps deservedly.
In December 2013, the Packard Plant was purchased by Peruvian businessman, Fernando Palazuelo for the sum of $405k. The irony here is that a Banksy piece of this size, and notoriety, could easily sell for well over $500k. The 555 Gallery would be able to double its size, but at the possible cost of losing credibility. Obviously, there was no way to predict whether or not the piece would have been destroyed by any number of things, but that is not the point here. Shouldn’t street art be meant to be celebrated in the wild, for as long as it exists and not to be extracted and sold? After all, there’s got to be a reason Banksy doesn’t paint price tags on his murals.