Venice Plan for Damaged Banksy Mural Concerns Locals

Venice Developed a Plan to Restore a Water-Damaged Banksy Mural, but Local Artists Started Raising Concerns About the Plan.

Nov 16, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Venice Banksy
A Banksy mural, depicting a migrant child wearing a life-jacket holding a pink flare. Photo by Marco Sabadin / AFP.


Venice’s plans to restore a water-damaged Banksy mural upset many local artists. The mural lies on the Grand Canal. Because of its position, the mural endures the waves caused by motorboats going by. The Italian Culture Ministry initially declared in early October that plans were in place for restoring “The Migrant Child”.


Venice Banksy on the Grand Canal

banksy woman hostomel, Venice
A mural in Hostomel by Banksy, via CNN


Banksy painted the mural in 2019, on the exterior within an empty Venetian palace in the city’s Dorsoduro Sestiere. It is also one of the two Italian pieces by Banksy. “The mural by the British artist, one of the leading exponents of street art, whose true identity remains unknown, is deteriorating due to humidity, high water, and salt spray,” the ministry statement reads.


In particular, the Grand Canal’s bottom section of the palace facade is home to the Venice Banksy. It usually encounters seas from incoming motorboats and is left unfinished. The building’s owner asked the nation’s Superintendence of Cultural Heritage for assistance in maintaining the piece. But, the national body couldn’t do that. Why? The creator is still alive, and the work is not older than 70 years.


banksy ballerina irpin
A mural in Irpin by Banksy, via The Odessa Journal


In the end, the Ministry of Italian Culture intervened. Observing the artists created the piece illegally, Undersecretary Vittorio Sgarbi stated that his agency does not give a damn about getting permission from Banksy or about the other issues that kept the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage from restoring the piece.

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Local Artists on Banksy Mural

art vandalism banksy girl painting, venice
The Girl with Ballon (Self-Destructed) by Banksy, 2018, via CNN


“The mayor of Venice and the president of the Veneto Region pointed out to me the fragility of the mural”, Sgarbi said in a statement. “I take responsibility for the intervention having the delegation on contemporary art, and it is my job to protect it”. Sgarbi stated at the time that authorities found a significant bank that would cover the restoration’s expenses.


However, artists who spoke to Euronews question Sgarbi’s plans to proceed with the restoration. “Banksy was no fool. He was fully aware that his waterside creation wasn’t meant to endure. Restoring it goes against the grain”, a street artist named Evyrein told Euronews. Evyrein said he has had one of his own works restored “with the best intentions”, but that the end result was “less than desirable”.


banksy valentines graffiti
Valentine’s Day Mascara by Banksy, 2023, via Sky News


Local tour guide Monica Gambarotto took a more neutral stance on the issue, noting that visitors often request to see the mural and that nearly all Venetian palaces were once adorned with frescoes. But those frescoes have naturally faded away in what she called “part of the city’s historical evolution”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.