LA building with Banksy mural could fetch $30M at auction

Fashion District property features “Girl on a Swing,” complicating value estimates

Banksy’s “Girl on a Swing” mural and historic building at 908-910 S. Broadway, Los Angeles with building owners Tarina Tarantino and Alfonso Campos (Getty)
Banksy’s “Girl on a Swing” mural and historic building at 908-910 S. Broadway, Los Angeles with building owners Tarina Tarantino and Alfonso Campos (Getty)

Art lovers who want Banksy’s “Girl on a Swing” can bid for the century-old building in Downtown Los Angeles that comes with it. The auction sale price could hit $30 million.

The owners of a historic building at 908-910 South Broadway in the Fashion District will sell it at auction next month along with the mural left by the British street artist, the New York Times reported.

Tarina Tarantino and Alfonso Campos, owners of the silent film-era building, have put a value on the building alone of $16 million. Some say adding the small alley mural could bring nearly twice that.

The owners, founders of Tarina Tarantino accessories, bought the seven-story, 26,000-square-foot building in 2007 for $4 million. Over the next 10 years, they spent $1.8 million on renovations that included the elevators and electrical and plumbing systems.

The Art Deco building, designed by Meyer & Holler of Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian theaters fame, opened in 1914 to house L.L. Burns’ Western Costume Company, from which the silent pictures of the era sourced their duds.

It later appeared in the iconic clock scene of the 1923 silent film “Safety Last!” with Harold Lloyd.

In 2010, while in town for the premiere of his documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” Banksy left his gift for fans: the brick-wall mural of a girl on a swing beneath the 5-foot “A” in “PARKING.”

The pandemic hit downtown Los Angeles hard, and as restaurants and shops closed their doors, Tarantino’s and Campos’ tenants pulled out of leases. They filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, and on Oct. 6 the building will be sold at auction.

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Its new owner could buy the building to remove and then sell the mural. Jeffrey Deitch, an art dealer and curator, said even considering the Banksy mural as separate from the building was impossible.

“It would be terrible if this is removed and then put on the market,” he said. “This is free public art.”

Holly Dunlap, former head of the Private Client Group at Sotheby’s in London, estimated that based on its 12- by 33-foot size, the Banksy could bring $10 million or more on the private market. But she said auction houses like Sotheby’s had been offered sawed-off Banksy murals in the past and refused to sell them.

Tarantino and Campos say that appraisers have been hesitant to bundle the building and the Banksy mural, but they hope the package could fetch more than $30 million.

“This is an extremely difficult property to value. You can’t look at it from just a straight real estate appraisal value. You can’t look at it from a straight art value. It’s a combination of both,” said Jeff Azuse, senior vice president of Hilco Real Estate, which is representing the seller.

— Dana Bartholomew

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