Palestinian Man Conned into Selling Banksy Mural for $175 Takes Legal Action

Banksy's Niobe grafitti in Gaza. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Rabie Darduna, the Palestinian man who was duped into selling an original Banksy mural for just $175 (see Palestinian Family Conned into Selling Banksy Painting for Under $200) is taking legal action against the man who bought it, Reuters reports.

Banksy visited Gaza in February to craft a series of politically-charged murals (see Banksy Heads to Gaza to Support the Palestinian Cause), and happened to paint one—showing the Greek goddess Niobe mourning her children—on the door of Darduna’s destroyed family home.

Darduna told the BBC that Belal Khaled, a local man purporting to represent the artist, gave him $175 for the artwork. Darduna confessed that he and his family were struggling to come to terms with the con. “Really we’re depressed,” he revealed. “It’s a matter of fraud.”

Now, Darduna has taken his case to the authorities, and yesterday police paid a visit to Khaled’s house in southern Gaza to confiscate the mural. The case is currently being reviewed at court.

“The policemen took the door away and they told me it would be held in accordance with a court order because there was a lawsuit against me,” Khaled told Reuters. “I am the true owner of the door now, and I will seek to establish this in court.”

Despite knowing how much he underpaid for the work, Khaled, a graffiti artist himself, insists there was nothing illegal about the transaction. He claims that his intention was to preserve Banksy’s work.

Meanwhile, Darduna’s lawyer, Mohammed Rihan, is getting ready for the legal battle. “I will seek to return the door to its true owner,” he told Reuters. “My client was cheated.”

More than just the love of street art is at stake in this case. Several murals by Banksy have recently sold for as much as $670,000 (see Banksy Mobile Lovers Get $670,000 Price Tag from Antiques Roadshow and Sale of Banksy’s Mobile Lovers for $670,000 Saves Youth Club). According artnet’s price database, the artist’s record was established at Sotheby’s New York in 2008, with the gloss on canvas Keep It Spotless, which sold for $1,870,000.

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