Banksy may have been caught on film in Israel
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Banksy may have been caught on film in Israel

Woman claims she videoed the elusive graffiti artist working in Herzliya mall ahead of an exhibition of his works

The elusive English artist known as Banksy may have been captured on film by a woman who claims to have spotted him in a shopping mall in Israel.

The woman said he was spotted, before the Herzliya mall’s opening hours, working on an art installation at an exhibit of Banksy’s works there that is due to open on Tuesday.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, explained that “the mall opens at 10 a.m. but if you need to be there earlier you have to sign your name,” the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

“What was really weird was that when I came in and I had to sign my name, I noticed an English name and said to the security guard ‘Who is that?'” she said. “‘He said it was an artist from England.”

The man, wearing camouflage trousers and a white hat, can be seen working on preparations for the exhibit. When he notices that he is being filmed he holds up his hand to cover his face.

“I’m not what you’d call a huge fan, but I was saying to myself ‘Oh my god, it’s him. I think it’s Banksy,” she told the paper.

A Banksy wall painting showing Israeli border policeman and Palestinian in a pillow fight is seen in one of the rooms of the "The Walled Off Hotel" in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
A Banksy wall painting showing Israeli border policeman and Palestinian in a pillow fight is seen in one of the rooms of the “The Walled Off Hotel” in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, March 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

The “Art of Banksy” exhibition is set to open on Tuesday in the Arena Mall in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.

Steve Lazarides, the graffiti artist’s former manager and exhibit curator, said the exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the artworks.

“This exhibition is a one-off – never will you be able to see this amount of work in one place again,” he said. “Once the show is over, the artwork will dissipate back to the other 40 collectors around the world, and the likelihood of them being brought together again in the future is very slim.”

Banksy goes to great lengths to protect his identity, and has only been captured on video once before, in Melbourne in October.

The artist recently opened the “The Walled-Off Hotel” in Bethlehem. The hotel is only four meters (yards) from the West Bank security barrier, and all the rooms face it.

The nine rooms, which Banksy described as having the “worst view of any hotel in the world,” range from $30 for a bunk bed in one room to $965 per night for the presidential suite.

The monkey sculpture wearing a bell-hop uniform that stands outside the artist Banksy's new Bethlehem hotel in the West Bank. (Screen capture/YouTube)
The monkey sculpture wearing a bell-hop uniform that stands outside the artist Banksy’s new Bethlehem hotel in the West Bank. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Banksy has a long history in the Palestinian territories.

In February 2015, he allegedly sneaked into the Gaza Strip through a smuggling tunnel and painted three works on the walls of Gaza homes destroyed in Israeli airstrikes during the previous year’s conflict.

In 2007, he painted a number of artworks in Bethlehem, including a young girl frisking an Israeli soldier pinned up against a wall.

In 2005, he sprayed nine stenciled images at locations along the eight-meter-high (27-foot) wall.

Gaza city parkour enthusiasts perform in front of graffiti by British artist Banksy in Gaza City. (screen capture: Youtube/The Guardian)
Gaza city parkour enthusiasts perform in front of graffiti by British artist Banksy in Gaza City. (screen capture: Youtube/The Guardian)

They included a ladder reaching over the wall, a young girl being carried over it by balloons and a window on the gray concrete showing beautiful mountains in the background.

His works, like those elsewhere in the world, have become tourist attractions.

AFP contributed to this report.

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