1 Apr 2015

Gaza man ‘tricked’ into selling valuable Banksy artwork

A Palestinian man claims to have been “tricked” into selling a valuable Banksy painting, daubed on the door to his ruined home, for just 700 Israeli shekels (£120).

Banksy is believed to have entered Gaza in February where he painted four murals, including one on the door belonging to Rabie Dardouna – a depiction of the Greek goddess Niobe sheltering in the rubble.

He tricked us, it’s an issue of deception and trickery. Rabie Dardouna

The door was the only part of Mr Dardouna’s two-storey family home left standing following the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip last summer.

Works by Banksy are regularly sold for more than £500,000, but Mr Dardouna said on Tuesday that, unaware of its value, he had sold the door for 700 shekels.

“He is an artist (the man who bought the door) and he knows how valuable it is, but we are regular people and we don’t know that,” he said.

“He tricked us, it’s an issue of deception and trickery.”

Read more: Trapped in the rubble - Gaza's housing crisis

The local man who bought it, graffiti artist and journalist Belal Khaled, said he had no plans to give the door back and no plans to sell it “at present”.

“I bought the door to preserve the painting and protect it from being removed, spoiled or destroyed,” he told Reuters.

“Since I started as a graffiti artist it has been my dream to own a piece of Banksy art.”

Mr Khaled said he told Mr Darduna the painting on his door was by Banksy but it didn’t seem to register.

Gaza’s housing crisis

More than 150,000 homes in then Gaza Strip were damaged during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014 including 12,410 that were totally destroyed and 13,171 that suffered severe damage.

The UN estimates that over 100,000 housing units still need to be built to cope with the housing needs of Palestinians in the area. Construction of homes has been obstructed by Israeli bans on the import of construction materials.

The UN says that as of the end of December, 100,000 people remained displaced in Gaza – either staying with host families or living in makeshift shelters, tens and the ruins of their homes.