Not everybody wants to get their hands on a Banksy, it seems - at least not for $615,000. The mysterious artist donated one of his artworks to Housing Works, an organization dedicated to fighting homelessness and AIDS, on Oct. 29. The organization put it up for auction the same day on website Bidding for Good.
The painting, "The Banality of the Banality of Evil," depicted a Nazi guard on a bench looking over a traditional mountain landscape. Banksy painted the guard over a found landscape painting, reports the New York Times.
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The highest bidder, known only by his username "gorpetri," bid $615,000 for the artwork but immediately backed out after the sale. Housing Works then tried to sell the painting for $614,800 to the second highest bidder, Rachel Hirschfeld, who didn't think it was fair to pay the full price after the original winner had backed out. She told auction officials that she thought gorpetri's bids should not count and offered $400,000 instead, reports the Times.
The two parties agreed on $450,000, but after she sent them an offer letter, Housing Works told her they sold the painting at an unknown price to a higher bidder. She told the Times, “I think they used my fax to bid that person higher. I felt very used."
Other bidders wondered if the piece was not authentic, but Banksy's representatives confirmed the piece was real. The debacle led Hirschfeld to wonder if Banksy himself had driven up the price - her suspicions are yet unconfirmed.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark