The most recent visit to New York City by celebrated English artist Banksy has yet to result in the number of works seen in his 2013 “residency.” Two of his pieces have already been defaced or simply disappeared, whilst a third seems set to be painted over. The fourth, a seal painted on a disused gas station in Midwood, Brooklyn using laser cut stencils, looks set to meet the wrecking ball.
The seal mural on the former Mobil gas and service station, at 1249 Coney Island Avenue has been earmarked for demolition to be replaced by a 50,000-square-foot, self-storage complex being built by Safe N Lock that will extend to four stories.
At this stage, it is not certain if Safe N Lock have any intentions to preserve the seal mural by anti-Israel activist Banksy, although one local man has consulted engineers and contractors in to try and preserve the work.
Restaurant owner and Brooklyn native Evan Franca told Hyperallergic “When I found out the building was going to be knocked down, that’s when I thought about removing the wall,”. “I’ve built restaurants and overseen construction in short periods of time so was up to the challenge of this project. I contacted dozens of contractors and several structural engineers and feel I have found a good team for the job, but the cost is well beyond what I thought it would originally be.”
Just a few days after a new Banksy work emerged in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan, it was completely removed by the owner of the building. Fans of Banksy looked on in horror as workers took down the clock dial from the walls of a former bank on 6th Avenue and 14th Street, before taking it away.
The latest mural’s future seems to be heading towards a similar fate and it is not known if Safe N Lock have any intentions to work with Evan Franca to keep the mural, remove it, preserve it, or along with the rest of the building, simply have it demolished. However, according to Easy House Remodeling, an encouraging sign for Mr Franca and Banksy fans is that Safe N Lock have taken steps to prevent any vandalism, theft or deterioration of the mural, by covering it with a plywood casing and protecting it with a security guard.
Mr Franca said “I’ve been a Banksy fan for a while and after I heard he did the two works in Midwood, which is where I grew up, I was very excited to see them. His larger piece on the stucco wall resonated with me and was such a powerful statement on gentrification, real estate values, and its effects on communities and as a Brooklyn native hit home literally. It was sadly destroyed within a few days and I don’t want to see that happen with his other piece.”