When Banksy lands in a city and begins a street art-making spree, there's a routine that usually follows. First, the stenciled paintings are ignored, then, after people realize what they are, they are gawked at and occasionally vandalized. Eventually, they are cordoned off and protected from the public, and finally, they are physically removed, and someone makes a lot of money, or hopes to. An extreme version of this complex lottery played out for one unlucky family in Gaza recently.

The anonymous British artist visited the war-torn region in February, painting a series of works including the crying goddess Niobe above. Rabie Darduna, who owns the decimated house that Banksy used as his canvas, told the BBC that he was hustled into selling the Niobe door for just 700 shekels, or about $175. His works regularly fetch five and six figures at auction.

The Darduna family property was one of some 18,000 in Gaza that were destroyed during last year's 50-day war with Israel, displacing 110,000 people, according to the United Nations.

"It was a two-storey building but only the door was left standing," says Mr Darduna. "Then a young, foreign man came and painted on it."


They convinced him they were acting on behalf of the artist and wanted to buy the door, as it was part of a series of works.

"They said they wanted to put it in a museum in Gaza where everyone could see it," Mr Darduna explains.

"One man told me: 'We're from the group that did it.' They made me sign a paper. It said I agreed on 700 shekels. They pressured me and I accepted because I need the money."

In 2015, Banksy is purely an economic phenomenon. The financial squabbling that follows in his wake is almost always more interesting than the uninspired artwork that sparked it. He may as well be dropping bags full of freshly minted money behind him.

A spokesman for the artist told the BBC that Banksy believes the door should be returned to its rightful owner—and it certainly sounds like Darduna's family could use the cash. Maybe Banksy can just paint another one?

Image via YouTube. Contact the author at andy@gawker.com.