Banksy painting raises millions for Palestinian children’s hospital

British artist Banksy’s Walled-Off Hotel in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 July 2020

Banksy painting raises millions for Palestinian children’s hospital

  • The three-paneled work, “Mediterranean Sea View 2017,” was put up for sale at Sotheby’s auction house on July 29

LONDON: A triptych by British artist Banksy of the Mediterranean Sea depicting the European refugee crisis has sold for more than £2.2 million ($2.9 million) at auction in London.

The three-paneled work, “Mediterranean Sea View 2017,” was put up for sale at Sotheby’s auction house on July 29, where it was initially expected to fetch £1.2 million for a children’s hospital in the West Bank, the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation.

The money raised will be put toward an acute stroke unit and children’s rehabilitation equipment.

The work was based on three romantic-period oil paintings of the sea, and depicted life jackets, oars and other detritus on the shore from abandoned refugee boats — a comment on the mass movement of people from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe due to a series of ongoing natural and man-made events, including the wars in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

“In ‘Mediterranean Sea View 2017,’ Banksy corrupts three found oil paintings with his own witty re-workings to create something that, while posing as a 19th-century seascape, spotlights one of the burning issues of the 21st century,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art for Europe.

“This triptych hangs in Sotheby’s galleries alongside works by some of history’s greatest landscape painters, including Bellotto, Van Goyen and Turner. Banksy’s work, however, stands alone for its potent political message.”

Banksy, who keeps his true identity a well-guarded secret, rose to international prominence on the back of graffiti art with strong themes of political and social commentary.

In recent years, the twin issues of the Mediterranean migration crisis and the Israel-Palestine conflict have played a major role in his work.

In 2015, he created an interactive work in the form of dystopian theme park “Dismaland,” in the British town of Weston-super-Mare, featuring refugee boats and anarchist themes.

He also opened the Walled-Off Hotel in Bethlehem in 2017, a play on the name of the famous Waldorf hotel chain.

The Walled-Off Hotel boasts the “worst view of any hotel in the world,” located next to Israel’s barrier wall in the West Bank.

Guests can experience just 25 minutes of direct sunlight per day. “Mediterranean Sea View 2017” had previously hung in the hotel. 

In “The Son of a Migrant from Syria,” daubed on a wall in a French migrant camp dubbed “The Jungle” in the port of Calais in 2015, Banksy showed the deceased billionaire founder of tech giant Apple, Steve Jobs, as a refugee, carrying nothing but a sack of belongings and an early Apple computer. Jobs’s biological father Abdulfattah Jandali was from the Syrian city of Homs. 

Banksy’s most recent work involved spraying a train carriage on the London Underground with messages about COVID-19.

Controversy was caused when it emerged that it was removed as part of routine cleaning by the network’s operator, Transport for London.


‘Gladiator’ star Russell Crowe pitches in to rescue blast-hit Beirut eatery Le Chef

Updated 13 August 2020

‘Gladiator’ star Russell Crowe pitches in to rescue blast-hit Beirut eatery Le Chef

  • Oscar-winning Crowe said on Twitter that he made the donation “on behalf of Anthony Bourdain”

BEIRUT: Hollywood star Russell Crowe said Thursday that he donated funds to help rebuild a blast-hit Beirut restaurant on behalf of late food icon Anthony Bourdain, who loved its traditional dishes.
The decades-old Le Chef restaurant, located in the heart of a trendy Beirut district, is a beloved neighborhood place renowned for its home-style cooking.
It was blown to pieces by the August 4 explosion that killed 171 people, wounded at least 6,500 and ravaged swathes of Beirut.
The Oscar-winning Crowe, best known for his role in the 2000 action film Gladiator, said on Twitter that he made the donation “on behalf of Anthony Bourdain.”

“I thought that he would have probably done so if he was still around,” Crowe said of the celebrity chef and travel journalist who committed suicide in 2018.
“Hope things can be put back together soon.”
Crowe’s $5,000 donation was made on a GoFundMe page set up by fans of Le Chef, a restaurant popular with tourists as well as locals in the Gemmayzeh neighborhood that was among the hardest-hit by the explosion.
The online fundraiser raised nearly $11,000 in less than 24 hours, just $2,000 short of its target.

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Le Chef is where Bourdain had his first meal when he and his crew where trapped in Lebanon for a week in 2006 because of a month-long war with Israel.
It is featured in the highly-praised Lebanon episode of his ‘No Reservations’ series.
“Really good food, very traditional,” Bourdain says of the restaurant in the show, calling it a “nice mix” of old and new.
It’s a “good first meal in Beirut.”