In 2017 Banksy opened The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. Both a political statement and functioning boutique hotel, the Walled Off Hotel was aimed to attract attention to the struggles of the region by focusing on the division of two opposing sides of the separation wall.
Whilst the West Bank barrier not only divides two opposing regions and governments, it also divides two of the most holy sites in Christianity, The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine and The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Old Town Jerusalem, Israel. The wall along Caritas Street in Bethlehem has a strong street art scene heavily influenced by anti-establishment and political sentiments pioneered by Banksy himself in his first series of stencils on the wall in 2006 and then later by global figures such as Blu and JR.
Banksy’s Grappling Hook (2017) is a powerful statement on this struggle and was the most iconic piece to emerge from the Walled Off Hotel intervention in Bethlehem.
It was the only signed edition to be offered as part of this project and was also the first time Banksy had put his works for sale since 2013, when he set up a small, anonymous pop-up stall in Central Park in New York as part of his 31 days in New York happening.
Banksy’s described the piece as a “Military grade grappling hook and combination spiritual ornament” (the artist on Instagram, 2017), and compounded the joke by presenting the piece in a hand painted, custom made cardboard box.
Despite recent news that Banksy’s work has finally been acquired by the British Museum in London, he is the art world’s best known and most creative agent provocateur. Grappling Hook is arresting, humorous and polemic and as such ranks alongside any of the artist’s most important work.
The piece will be going live tomorrow at Bonham’s Post-War and Contemporary Auction in London. With an estimate of £ 70,000 – 100,000, we are curious to see the final hammer price!