First piece to go up is the first piece to come down.
Five days ago, the anonymous street artist known as Banksy shocked fans when he revealed a new piece on the facade of an abandoned Manhattan bank. The signature rat stenciled on the building’s existing clock face at the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue, delighted enthusiasts who saw it as the British prankster signaling his return to New York City and creating an apt metaphor for the rat race that was about to ensue as more and more work gets unveiled on the artist’s Instagram.
Well, it’s already gone.
On Tuesday morning, a handful of workers removed the artwork to the dismay of fans and photographers documenting the eviction. One worker confirmed to The Daily Beast that the property owner sent them to take down the piece—clock face and all—so it could be sold. ODA Architecture is the company developing a 13-story condo building, according to Curbed, and according to a graffiti writer on-site, Gemini Rosemont owns the property.
A victim of his own success, Banksy’s unsanctioned outdoor murals typically fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, forcing the artist to put up work in places where it’s hard to remove. That of course, hasn’t stopped art profiteers from cutting out entire sections of wall from Detroit to Palestine Palestine and then trying to sell them to Bansky’s dismay.
“Graffiti art has a hard enough life as it is, before you add hedge-fund managers wanting to chop it out and hang it over the fireplace,” Banksy once said. “For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs, I’d encourage people not to buy anything by anybody, unless it was created for sale in the first place.”