It was widely reported last week that a Palestinian man had complained to police that he had been duped into selling a Banksy that had appeared on the door of his bomb-damaged house. Police have now seized the work in dispute.
Featuring an image of Niobe, a mourning Greek goddess, the work had appeared last year during Banksy’s February 2014 visit to the Gaza strip, one of a number of paintings he left on outside walls during his tour.
The owner of the house, Rabie Darduna, sold it to a local artist, Bilal Khaled, for 700 shekels (£120). He reportedly did not know that it might be by Banksy. Banksy’s works sell for much more – in 2013 a Banksy mural painted on a shop in London sold at a private auction for $1.1m.
Upon discovering its true value, Durduna soon filed a complaint against the buyer. He told the BBC last week: “One man told me: ‘We’re from the group that did it.’ They made me sign a paper. It said I agreed on 700 shekels ($175; £120). They pressured me and I accepted because I need the money. Really we feel depressed and very upset,” he added. “This door is rightfully ours. They cheated us. It’s a matter of fraud. And we’re asking for the door to be returned.”
On Thursday, police acted on a court order and seized the door. “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,” Mr Khaled told Reuters.
Darduna’s lawyer, Mohammed Rihan, confirmed the claims to the Bansky painting were under court review.”I will seek to return the door to its true owner, Rabea Darduna. My client was cheated,” Rihan said.