Iconic Banksy ‘Ghetto 4 Life’ mural removed from the Bronx, headed to…


An iconic Banksy graffiti installation in the Bronx that initially drew the ire of some but grew to be considered “the pride of the neighborhood” was shipped off to Connecticut this week.

South Bronx residents were left feeling betrayed as the exterior wall that displayed the “Ghetto 4 Life” graffiti was removed from 651 Elton Avenue due to the building’s demolition.

“Everybody was crying around here. This is art,” Steve Jacob told The Post of the mural, which has been in the neighborhood since October 2013.

“The gentleman made it for us, the community. I’ve lived all my life in the Bronx and this was made for the Bronx people,” said Jacob, who owns a store across the street from the Banksy piece. “And now someone’s taken it away from us.”

The graffiti first appeared on the wall when the elusive British artist tagged a variety of New York locales during his “Better Out Than In” series.

Despite being blasted by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg as “defacement” and panned by some who found the white artist’s use of the word “ghetto” offensive in the historically blighted area, the work survived far longer than most Banksys in the city, many of which were painted over by rival artists or lost to real estate development.

The work depicted a boy painting the slogan “Ghetto 4 Life” in bubble letters as a butler serves him spray cans on a tray.

It had been protected by plexiglass under a roll-up gate hidden by makeshift curtains, according to Welcome2TheBronx, which reported on the building’s demolition last year.

The iconic Elton Ave mural in 2013, after it was protected by plexiglass. Robert Kalfus

On Monday, Jacob watched as workers from an outfit called Fine Art Shippers clamped an iron frame around the mural and sawed it off. They then packed it in wood and loaded it upright on a flatbed truck and drove away. 

“How are you going to leave the community like this? It’s poor, there’s a lot of crime – but we had this piece of art, and you took it away,” Jacob said.

“Whatever [Banksy] did in the picture, he did for the community, and now that the building is gone, the owner of the building took the art and left and moved it to Connecticut, not even the Bronx or New York. The community here is very upset and we can’t do anything about it.”

The loss of the art also hit home for Quentin Soto, 34, a local store manager.

Here today, gone tomorrow. The same location on Wednesday, after the building was demolished and the famous section of the wall was removed and sent to Connecticut Dennis A. Clark

“They really took a piece of my heart. This mural was the pride of the neighborhood, and as you can’t see, we don’t have a lot of pride to spare,” Soto said.

“The Bronx ain’t Florence, if you know what I mean. But we had this mural, and it brought people here from all over the world who appreciate fine art. I liked to brag to people, ‘You know that Banksy mural Ghetto 4 Life? I live right there.’ Sort of like how you’d brag if you lived next door to the Empire State Building or something. I really loved it,” he continued.

“Banksy is all about the people living in the locations he stencils. Something about the picture always felt to me to be a dead-on representation of what we’re all about.

“And now it’s in Connecticut, of all places. Not the Bronx Museum of Art, not the Metropolitan Museum of Art, not the Guggenheim. Connecticut.” 

David Damaghi is the owner of the former tourist attraction, which is reportedly being demolished to make way for a charter school. Robert Kalfus

Another local resident, electrician Carlo Cintron, 44, called the development a “big loss for the community.

“This was something really unique, really special. I’d walk by it all the time and always stop to admire it, to appreciate it, because in a way I always felt like it was too good for this neighborhood, know what I mean? But here it was. We thought it was permanent, but I guess nothing’s permanent in New York real estate.”

It was unclear how much the section of the wall was sold for. An intentionally shredded Banksy has fetched some $25 million at auction.

David Damaghi, who owns 651 Elton Avenue, did not immediately return a call to The Post, nor did Fine Art Shippers.

The owner of 800 Union Avenue in Bridgeport, where the piece was set to be displayed in a courtyard, according to the New York Daily News, could not immediately be reached.

The Post also reached out to a representative of Banksy for comment.

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