Fernando Palazuelo, the new owner of the plant, told the
"I think the Banksy graffiti should be in the Packard Plant, and I have a positive feeling of our negotiations with the 555 Gallery," Palazuelo said.
It was unclear Tuesday whether Palazuelo was negotiating to buy the Banksy, whose ultimate monetary value in the marketplace remains a subject of elusive conjecture, or whether some other kind of arrangement was being discussed.
"We don't know what they're proposing, so this is just the beginning," said
Palazuelo did not elaborate on the specifics of the deal, but he did say that he believes it is important to
"I think the history of the Packard Plant is not only the history of the first half of the century -- 1903 to 1956 -- but it's also the history from 1956 to today," Palazuelo said. "The graffiti artists have been playing a big role, and Banksy is the start."
-- Special report: The Packard Plant: Why it has to go
-- The Packard Plant: Then and now -- interactive comparison photos
Banksy, who works all over the world in secrecy, is known as an artist, celebrity and provocateur. The market for his murals is erratic, partly because he refuses to authenticate works removed from their original context.
Works that appear on Banksy's website -- as the Packard mural did when it was created -- are considered authentic by experts. A work comparable to the Packard mural sold last year at auction in
The Banksy in
Critics said that gallery had no right to take it -- and that the meaning of the graffiti art is indivisible from its location, so to move it is to kill it.
In the wake of the publicity, a company aligned with the then-owner of the Packard Plant sued the gallery for its return. Eventually, 555 paid
The controversy erupted anew earlier this year when the gallery revealed that it planned to sell the Banksy to raise money for its primary mission of providing exhibition space and studios for artists and educational programs. Critics charged the gallery with hypocrisy.
Steinhaus said that the gallery stands by its decision to sell the work and that it has fielded private offers to buy the piece, as well as offers from commercial galleries interested in selling it on behalf of 555 on consignment. However, Steinhaus said that no offers have come in with terms that the gallery considered appropriate.
Even if the Banksy returns to its original home, the gallery is still likely to face some ire if it ends up profiting from a sale. And the debate over the work is also unlikely to die.
On the one hand, the rich history of the Banksy is now so ingrained in conversation about its residence and its relationship to
On the other hand, the question remains: Can a piece of graffiti art ever really go home again?
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