Saving Banksy works slated for destruction: does it make sense?

[26 Mar 2024]

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An international superstar, BANKSY is one of the most politically engaged and popular artists of our time with over 12 million followers on his Instagram account. His works, both humanist and satirical, are visible to passers-by around the world, on walls and facades, and for several months, on ruins around Kyiv. Banksy – who has taken the notion of “resistance art” to another level – has become an unavoidable artist for major collectors and one of the most sought-after and best-supported artists on the art market. At the end of 2023, he ranked as the 53rd top-selling artist in the world, just behind the great Modern artist Fernand Léger, with an annual auction turnover exceeding $35 million from 770 works sold. In 2021, Banksy even reached 5th place in the Artprice global ranking (just behind the top-sellers Picasso, Basquiat, Warhol, and Monet) after a very exceptional performance that included a new record of $25.4 million for his Love is in the Bin (the famous painting with its hidden shredder in the frame that produced one of the most spectacular events in contemporary auction history).

Ultra-popular and highly valued, the works that Banksy created in public spaces are sometimes targeted by thieves. This was notably the case of a stencil painted in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack at the Bataclan music hall in Paris. In 2022, eight men were sentenced for acts dating back to 2019. Recently, thieves made off with a London road sign on which Banksy had painted three aircraft resembling combat drones, a work that might fetch over $400,000 at auction.

To prevent theft and damage, certain works by Banksy are protected under plexiglass. Others have been lost forever, like those erased by London Underground cleaning teams in 2020 or the one destroyed along with the building that supported it as part of a property development in Bristol in 2006. Stencils not being any more eternal than the urban fabric on which they are daubed, things like the Bristol event will obviously happen again… but it is possible to save some of them.

Last month, a Banksy mural titled Ghetto 4 Life was moved from the Bronx to Connecticut. The work was taken from the Melrose Building at 651 Elton Avenue as part of the demolition of the structure to make room for a school. The wall-moving process was handled by Fine Art Shippers, who partnered with Chesakl, a metal construction company based in New York. This was the second project to move a Banksy wall carried out by Fine Art Shippers and Chesakl, who had already teamed up to carry out this type of particularly delicate mission in 2019.

Capture d’écran du 2024-03-25 10-34-01

Photo by Gosha Shif for Fine Art Shippers


Distribution of Banksy works at auction by price range between 2000 and 2024 (in thousands of $). Copyright


Ilya Kushnirskiy, founder of Fine Art Shippers, owner of Russian Icon Collection, answers our questions about the movement of this major work.

Who decided to save Banksy’s Ghetto 4 Life mural from destruction?

“Ghetto 4 Life,” which was painted on the wall at 651 Elton Avenue in the South Bronx in 2013 during Banksy’s one-month residency in New York, was an iconic piece for the local community for years. For a decade, it was protected from vandalism and damage by a plexiglass screen installed behind a roll-up gate.

In 2023, it was announced that the building featuring the graffiti would be demolished to make space for a charter school. The property owner, David Damaghi, opted to preserve the artwork by relocating the wall section it was on to a different site (in Bridgeport, Connecticut). In 2024, Fine Art Shippers, known for previously relocating a Banksy piece — “The Seal,” from a Brooklyn neighborhood in 2019, was chosen for the task.

Chesakl, a New York-based structural steel company that had partnered with Fine Art Shippers on the earlier project, managed all technical and engineering aspects of the relocation. Chesakl specifically constructed a metal frame to stabilize the wall during removal and handled the heavy machinery required for the task.

Do you know the estimate for this work by Banksy?

We do not know the price, but an estimate can be made based on the sales over the years; the most expensive Banksy artworks could be worth millions. The fact that many of Banksy’s murals created during his 2013 residency in New York have vanished undoubtedly adds to their value.

What was the most difficult technical point you faced in moving the mural?

The whole process was difficult, yet the tensest moment came when the crane’s cable tightened, and the wall started to rise from the ground. At this point, everyone held their breath. But given Chesakl’s extensive engineering experience, everything proceeded smoothly. The moment the wall was lifted off the ground, it became evident that everything had been done correctly.

Has the location for the re-installation of the work been chosen? If so, what are the reasons that defined this new place of reception?

The new site was chosen by the client who judged that placing the sculpture in their courtyard would allow art lovers to come and see it. The wall will be available for viewing at a public events space in Connecticut.