Banksy mural from Packard Plant up for auction

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

For $200,000 or more, you could own a famous mural attributed to mysterious graffiti artist Banksy that once adorned Detroit’s Packard Plant.

The painting, which depicts a downcast young boy holding a paint can and brush alongside a red legend, “I remember when this was all trees,” is up for grabs Sept. 30 in Beverly Hills, California, as part of an annual street art sale by Julien’s Auctions.

Considered “one of Banksy’s most poignant examples of American street art,” the 7-foot-tall multicolor aerosol stencil and freehand figural work could fetch as much as $400,000, according to the auction website.

“Banksy created this work in 2010 just prior to the premiere of the documentary that would bring him to stardom, ‘Exit through the Gift Shop,’ ” the page read. “Fingerprints can clearly be seen on the red paint and are the only known examples of what may finally lead to the uncovering of the elusive artist’s identity.”

Just as speculation swirls around the true identity of the world-renowned, notoriously reclusive artist, the mural — which Julien’s Auctions calls “a statement on the negative effects of industrialization” — has also sparked debate and controversy.

In May 2010, the piece suddenly appeared on one of the Packard Plant’s crumbling concrete walls. Days later, workers associated with Detroit’s 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios moved the mural to their site.

The owners of Bioresource Inc., who claim to own the plant property, sued the gallery for taking it without permission. Through a settlement in 2012, the gallery paid the company $2,500 to gain the title.

Last year, around the time 555 announced it would sell the work, a Detroit businessman and artist both claimed authorship.

A picture of the mural has been posted on a website many believe belongs to Banksy, but a declaration of ownership did not accompany the image.

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