The real crime here is that showing these pieces in an environment such as an art fair ultimately legitimizes the removal of all street art, Schiller said. This will lead to the downfall of the street art movement that this exhibition crassly says it is celebrating.
Much of the controversy surrounding the exhibition and sale of Banksys works began in the summer of 2011, when Keszler and Bankrobber Gallery in London presented two of the artists works, which were taken from Bethlehem in Israel and shipped to the Southampton Village Power Plant in New York.
Banksy fans, who are legion, criticized the gallery owners for taking the works from their original locations and trying to profit from art made for all to enjoy.
At the time of the New York exhibition, Banksys handling service, Pest Control, issued a statement to artnet.com an online platform for buying, selling and researching art:
We have warned Mr. Keszler of the serious implications of selling unauthenticated works but he seems not to care. We have no doubt that these works will come back to haunt Mr. Keszler.
Korniloff, the Art Miami director, said Pest Control contacted the fairs representatives and insisted they stop the Miami exhibition.
But Korniloff and Keszler are undeterred, and Korniloff hopes the exhibition will start a public conversation about the role of private collectors and the preservation of street art.
He said there have been numerous examples of Banksys works being destroyed, either painted over as an eyesore or removed along with the building or wall where the work once lived.
Without private collectors like Mr. Keszler, many of these works would fall prey to the variables that exist when an artist creates on anothers property, Korniloff said.
Two works scheduled to be shown at Art Miami will be starkly out of context in Miami. Both were taken from Bethlehem in the West Bank: Wet Dog, an image in white of a wet dog shaking itself, and Stop and Search, a lifesize stencil of a girl in a pink dress patting down a soldier.
Banksy created the works in 2007, one on the wall of a butcher shop and the other at a bus stop.
Keszler said he and Bankrobber gallery never removed the works from their original locations but rather salvaged them from eventual destruction.
In the case of Stop and Search and Wet Dog, he said, they bought the works from Palestinians who had already removed the works and left them in a stone masons yard when they failed to sell.
He said each of the works weighs 1,000 to 3,000 pounds, and that it took him and a collaborator several years and many thousands of dollars to salvage the pieces and ship them out of the Middle East.
The other works are on consignment from building owners who paid to have the walls with Banksys works removed, he said.
We do not need his permission to do what he wants, he added, because its not owned by him. Its made by him.
Asked why the works being exhibited at Art Miami are not for sale, Keszler suggested his appreciation for them has increased.
Lets say it changed, the love for those works, he said.
Keszler added that the Banksy works could go on sale again in the future, and he suggested that theres a preferred buyer.
I would be very, very happy, he said, if those works would come into a very important museum.