Poignant Banksy mural expected to fetch up to $400,000 at tonight’s auction

Banksy mural at 555 Gallery. By Steve Neavling.
Banksy mural at 555 Gallery. By Steve Neavling.

Update: Mural fetches six-figures at auction Wednesday night.

The poignant Banksy mural that was removed from the vacant Packard Plant in May 2010 is about to get a new home.

The nonprofit 555 Gallery and Studios is selling the 8-foot, 1,500-pound cinderblock wall at a Beverly Hills auction house in California at 10 p.m. eastern time tonight.

Julien’s Auctions expect the piece to fetch $200,000 to $400,000. The minimum bid is $50,000.

The gallery wants to use the money to improve the gallery and offer more opportunities for artists in Detroit.

The mural, which depicts a boy with a can of red paint and the words, “I remember when all this was trees,” had sat against a wall at the corner of the gallery without much fanfare.

Removing the gallery from the Packard Plant stirred controversy in 2000. At the time, artists at 555 Gallery justified the removal by saying they would make the piece available for everyone to see. But interest waned.

The gallery reached a $2,500 agreement with the owner of the Packard Plant after he filed a lawsuit. The settlement gave 555 Gallery legal possession of the piece.

The value of street art has been soaring in recent years. Last year, a Banksy mural taken from the side of a pub in England was sold for $575,000. In December 2013, a similar stencil sold for $209,000.

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.