Banksy mural for sale! Detroit gallery offers up rare find

555_1025Artists at 555 Gallery and Studios set off a firestorm when they removed a large mural by world-renowned street artist Banksy from the abandoned Packard Plant in Detroit in May 2010.

They reasoned that the 7-foot-by-8-foot piece would be destroyed at the crumbling plant, so why not preserve it and feature it at their Detroit gallery for all to see?

Critics fired back that street art should live and die at its original location.

Now the folks at the nonprofit gallery, which survives on a slim budget of $70,000, want to sell the valuable 1,500-pound cinder-block wall to finance new education programs, provide more studio space and ultimately invest more in budding local and visiting artists, volunteers said publicly for the first time in an interview with Motor City Muckraker.

“The Banksy isn’t our identity,” volunteer executive director and co-founder Carl W. Goines told us. “Our focus has always been on giving artists and others an opportunity to create and grow. We can better serve the community that way.”

The mural, which depicts a boy with a can of red paint and the words, “I remember when all this was trees,” now sits against a wall at the corner of the gallery, partially concealed by tables.

After a legal battle with the owner of the Packard Plant, the gallery reached a $2,500 agreement to legally take ownership of the mural.

The value of street art has been soaring in recent years. Last month, a Banksy mural taken from the side of a pub in England was sold for $575,000. In December, a similar stencil sold for $209,000.

555 volunteers said they don’t plan to auction off the piece and would rather find a direct buyer.

Carl W. Goines at 555.

The artists and board members know the decision will roil some in the street art community. And to many, there was an implicit understanding that the piece would remain local and open to the public.

But at 555, which operates solely with volunteers inside a largely unused former police precinct on West Vernor, the bills must be paid. Without secure funding, 555 has bounced from cramped homes to warehouses to the Third Police Precinct, where about 14,000 square feet is unused and in need of work.

The studio has more than 30 resident artists, musicians, writers, nonprofit arts administrators and creative entrepreneurs. All of them chip in with repairs and renovations.

“We have people who really support each other, and they spend their spare time and energy here,” Goines said. “There’s always something going on here. There’s so much motivation and dedication.”

But to make it to the next step, the gallery needs money, volunteers said.

“Cash is not the goal” in selling the Banksy, Erik Garant, operations director at 555, said. “It’s all about sustainability.”

To inquire about the Banksy mural, call 888-495- ARTS or email info@555arts.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • 925studio

    I’m glad ‘The Bansky isn’t (y)our identity,” because I don’t actually believe he did it. Much luck in fundraising using your own artists works. Detroit has some really wonderful and talented people living there.

  • Enigma

    All I can say, is this is rubbish. I will no longer support this gallery.

  • EDG

    It’s going to sell for a lot, but not as much as 555 thinks. The key part of this piece is that it needs context. His other stencils don’t necessarily need the Packard backdrop.

    I’d be curious what Banksy would have to say about this. Maybe it’s ok since it’s a nonprofit art gallery and the only person getting screwed is scumbag Cristini. Win win?

  • JC

    It would be great if someone buys it and bounces the check.

  • Shawn Ferguson

    Maybe if this team of artists needs money so bad they should try and earn it legitimately, as artists (READ: WITHOUT stealing the work of OTHER ARTISTS). If they can’t do that, maybe they shouldn’t be around, like you know, renting space for money.

  • Beastly Plyos

    I really don’t believe that they paid that guy $2,500. It had to be a lot more than that. Banksy is starting to get overrated. I saw all of Banksy’s pieces during his residency(NYC). However, to be honest there were a lot of other great artist who were doing great things during Banksy’s residency in New York and these artist did not get enough credit.

    Here is one – Yayoi Kusama’s Mirrored Infinity Room Installation at the DZ:

  • javierjuanmanuel

    Lots of non profit people pay themselves $50-70 bucks per hour. This is going to pay off his families house.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    ha this turd supports the occupy movement, and he is fine with stealing, lying to the public for support, then selling for his own personal gain something for six figures.

    He sounds more like a robber baron then an occupy guy. He sounds like the kind of guy who will steal his way to the top. Yeah yeah i am totally a socialist, i hate rich people, business people are scum.

    Yes multimillionaire auction house, here have this art, take 5-8% from me and the buyer, sell this for 200-500k, make 80k on a single transaction.

    Also lest anyone think non profit means no pay, it does not.

    A nonprofit organization (US and UK),[1] or not-for-profit organization (UK and others), often called an NPO or simply a nonprofit and non-commercial organization (Russia and CIS[citation needed]), often called an NCO, is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends

    While not-for-profit organizations are permitted to generate surplus
    revenues, they must be retained by the organization for its
    self-preservation, expansion, or plans.[3] NPOs have controlling members or boards. Many have paid staff including management, while others employ unpaid volunteers and even executives who work with or without compensation (occasionally nominal).[4]
    Where there is a token fee, in general, it is used to meet legal
    requirements for establishing a contract between the executive and the

    Designation as a nonprofit does not mean that the organization does
    not intend to make a profit, but rather that the organization has no
    owners and that the funds realized in the operation of the organization
    will not be used to benefit any owners. The extent to which an NPO can
    generate surplus revenues may be constrained or use of surplus revenues
    may be restricted.

    A large chunk of this can go right to carl goines pocket.

  • Dust Buster

    hypothetically speaking, what would the gallery expect to fetch for a section of an outhouse with the word “E DUB” sprayed on the side of it?

    • Gary

      an ass kicking

  • Sudsy

    These comments are hilarious! Albert Einstein is famously quoted for defining insanity. ” doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So with this in mind if you keep recycling this old way of thinking and/or living in the past, then you will always come to a similar if not the same conclusion every time. Right? Has anyone that is negatively commenting here even been the 555 gallery? Have you ever spoken to “opportunist thieves”? All I’m saying is that these are pretty harsh words here from people that most likely would never say these things in a social setting, let alone to the artists at this gallery.

    I’ll be visiting Detroit in the summer from New Orleans- can’t wait!
    Peace to you all,

    • MrSyn

      You made no point. At all. I don’t agree much with this Sizz character, but he was spot on. Theft is theft, even in the D

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Ha i would say it to their face. Why wouldn’t I ? What is he going to do, punish me and steal my car and wallet ?

      Maybe I have, maybe I have not been to the gallery, what does that have to do with theft ? This is a property rights question, not a question of where I have or have not been. Feel free to explain how walking through a gallery would make me support theft.

      Do you think the 555 gallery would support me stealing their pieces if I and other were wanting to check it out.

      Maybe we can all take a piece why the owner stands their smiling and knowing its not wrong. Oh wait it is wrong.

      I would say anything i want to anyone at any gallery. Like i have anything to be afraid of …. the people there are drugged out burnouts, trust fund brats, wispy thin underfed heroin artists, yeah its practically like robbing a police station, or starting a fight in a biker barr, or MMA gym. Pretentious art snobs at art social functions are stone cold hardcore tough guys.

      You sound like you have been hufffing banksys fumes for to long.

    • Tim Burke

      Hey Sudsy i said on the phone to one of the friends of the thieves. and yep i would not hold back in public bt the way this is a public platform and i’m not hiding behind some lame fake name on here

    • Ernest Camel

      Sudsy. I work at 555 and I am artist ther and I’M ALSO BLACK. I think they are good people and I moced up here from the south. My parents iare from New Orleans. Lived there and spent a lot of time there. Hope I get to meet you.

  • peeod

    Opportunist thieves and I’m not a member of the street art crowd. They knew exactly what they were doing.

  • Sizz

    They are no different than the scrappers that are ripping this city apart. People selling copper need cash too.

    • EDG

      What was damaged salvaging the wall?

  • Tim Burke

    I took isue with these guys when they stole it. they said it was an altruistic move on their part. and they took it o preserve it. i said well the Bansky has not only monetary value it has the value of drawing people to your gallery.and then latter you will probably sell it. they put up a very week argument. what i would like to know is why so called reporters go after people of color who were scraping metal to make ends meet and along come these white kids steal the Bansky in broad day light and the news wants to have a nice discussion about it.and they got away with it if it were a group of black guys that had done this you would have been screaming foul. why haven’t you demonized these guys like you did the guys who were doing the metal scraping they did just as much destruction as they did oh ya i forgot in the name of art bull junk those guys should have went to jail. and the proof is in the pictures they trespassed , did structural damage and stole property that wasn’t theirs furthering the devaluation of the building.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      I do not think its racial. It was socioeconomic and peer group stuff.

      I have no idea who owns the 555 I am pretty sure his dad was not a garbage man, and his mom was a bank clerk. He was not raised by single mother and grew up in dumpy apartments.

      If anything he is in the same cocktail party circuit with news directors. They golf together, boat together, campaign for the same politicians etc.

      They did not do structural damage the packard has to be torn down, it cannot be saved. The fire dept is not even allowed in there, any place could come down at any minute.

      Its wrong because it is a property rights issue. Banksy should not be doing graffiti on private property either if you seriously believe about property rights.

      • Tim Burke

        the guys who were scraping metal at the packard have who were black were and are demonized by the reporter who wrote this story. when the white guys steal a damage property in excess of 200 thousand they are made to look like fricken Robin hood.
        i’m done

        • Dust Buster

          all scrappers are black ? pretty racist of ya dont ya think?

          • Tim Burke

            those are your words. what i said is if you would read it again mr. dust buster is that the guy who wrote this article also wrote one about the scrapers who were indeed black and demonized them and when the white doods did the same and worst he doesn’t go after them with the same fervor fervor. but thank you for your confession

          • Dust Buster

            no confession. just shining a wee bit o light on your point. you still dont get it but nice save attempt

          • Tim Burke

            no not racist of me you’re the one that that said kind of racist of you. and no its not racist of me to point out somebody’s racism when they highlight the African American guys that were scrapping at the Packard in their so called news thread so again thanks for the confession

        • juanjaviermanuel

          well taking a knocked over wall with grafiti has only so much value to limited people. Copper always has values.

          Frankly banksy should not be running around private property either. Maybe he gets away with that because he is white ? Is he, is it still a mystery who he is?

          I know the white art house snobs think laws do not apply to people they like, like banksy.

          No damage of 200k was made.

          It was more like just tress passing, and i guess grand theft. Having a wall built can cost 1000 so it is grand theft for sure.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    Does anyone believe for one second that Cristini or what ever his name is from the packard plant let him take this, then took a modest $2500 for it?

    This was either stolen by 555, and cristini got allot more then $2,500 to not prosecute, or it was arranged from the start to take it, and pay Cristini in cash so it would not be sucked up into the vortex of all his legal problems, tax problems etc.

    This is crazy suspicious.

    There is no legal battle that ends in $2500 payment. That means 555 lawyer called Cristini 2 times and had him sign a sales agreement etc. Then 555 gave Cristini 50-60-70k etc. Good enough for Cristini to feel he is getting something substantial, but he is not in the art biz. So this is fair to him.

    555 gets to brag on this piece for a year, gets their name in many publications etc. What ever they paid for it, they are getting $1,000-5,000 worth of press every time it is on the news or in the paper.

    Then they get to sell it and walk away with 150k if it sells for 220 (minus auction fees and taxes).

  • MrSyn

    “After a legal battle with the owner of the Packard Plant, the gallery reached a $2,500 agreement to legally take ownership of the mural.”

    Which owner? LOL