Egyptian might bank on its Banksy |

Egyptian might bank on its Banksy

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Egyptian Theatre might end up taking Banksy to the bank.

The theater on Main Street was one of the buildings that the famous graffiti artist targeted with his work early on during the Sundance Film Festival. Instead of covering up or removing the graffiti, Egyptian officials removed the door with the Banksy piece for safekeeping and are now considering whether it should be put up for sale as a way to raise money for the not-for-profit theater.

"We heard it does have value. Our theater needs financial support badly," said Randy Barton, the theater manager at the Egyptian.

The Banksy piece was put on a stage door on the south side of the theater, 328 Main St. It is an image of a rat wearing red and blue glasses of the type worn for 3-D movies. It appears to be approximately one foot tall, and it was placed on the lower part of the door.

The piece was put on the door sometime in the overnight hours between Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, at the start of the Sundance Film Festival. Banksy, a guerrilla artist who hides his identity, premiered a film called "Exit Through the Gift Shop" during the festival. It was among the most highly anticipated films during Sundance.

The piece at the Egyptian was one of at least five works of graffiti believed to be by Banksy that appeared in the Park City area during Sundance or just before the festival opened. The artist’s Web site has images of some of the Park City-area pieces, including the rat with the glasses at the Egyptian.

Barton said the Banksy door is in storage at an undisclosed location for safekeeping. He said Egyptian Theatre leaders have not decided whether to put it up for sale. If they do sell the door, Barton said options include an online auction or finding a buyer without having to go through an auction.

Barton said he has been told the Banksy door could be worth more than $100,000, but he acknowledged that the figure is not based on a formal appraisal. If the piece ever fetches six figures, he said, the Egyptian could pay off its debts and have money left over to put on one or two productions.

He said the Egyptian will likely make decisions quickly, perhaps this winter, to take advantage of the publicity Banksy is receiving from "Exit Through the Gift Shop." Barton, who had not heard of Banksy prior to Sundance, said both museums and individual collectors might be interested in the piece.

A New York City art seller who has researched Banksy’s career and sells his work said in an interview the artist remains popular and his works are valuable. Christopher Arnold, who works at Keszler Gallery in New York’s Upper East Side, said there is a "mystique" about Banksy.

"He became very hot very fast. People were dying to get a Banksy," Arnold said, describing Banksy pieces as being "very clever" and saying the artist "keeps doing incredible new things."

Banksy pieces consistently sell well, Arnold said, adding that the works only occasionally reach the secondary market through resellers. His gallery has a Banksy piece for sale priced at $450,000. It measures 95 inches by 95 inches, much larger than the work on the Egyptian’s door.

"If you want a Banksy, they’re hard to find," Arnold said.

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