A long-lost painting by the British graffiti artist Banksy has resurfaced in an art gallery in Tel Aviv, an hour’s drive from the concrete wall in the occupied West Bank where it was initially sprayed.
The relocation of the painting – which depicts a slingshot-toting rat – raises ethical questions about the removal of artwork from occupied territory.
The painting initially appeared near Israel’s separation barrier in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem and was one of several works created around 2007.
They employed Banksy’s trademark absurdist and dystopian imagery to protest against Israel’s decades-long occupation of territories the Palestinians want for a future state.
The artwork now resides at the Urban Gallery in the heart of Tel Aviv’s financial district, surrounded by glass and steel skyscrapers.
The Associated Press could not independently confirm the authenticity of the piece, but Koby Abergel, an Israeli art dealer who purchased the painting, said the cracks and scrapes in the concrete serve as “a fingerprint”.
The 70 kilometre journey it made from the West Bank to Tel Aviv is shrouded in secrecy.
The 410 kilogram concrete slab would have had to pass through Israel’s barrier and at least one military checkpoint – daily features of Palestinian life, and targets of Banksy’s satire.