Downtown building remodel means Invader must go


In the summer of 2010, a French street artist who uses the name Invader (because his pixel-style mosaic figures were inspired by the 1978 Space Invaders arcade game) installed artwork on the facades of some downtown San Diego buildings.

He was one of 10 urban artists, including the controversial Banksy, taking part in a massive indoor/outdoor Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition called “Viva La Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape.” Much of the art was removed when the exhibit closed.

But nearly a decade later, a large piece by Invader still remains — for now.

Called The Mothership, the boxy black-and-white spaceship, comprised of square ceramic tiles, is perched on the upper facade of what until recently was the San Diego Art Center at Park Boulevard and G Street.

The problem is that the building is being remodeled and the mural must go. That is why, even though it’s still attached to the facade, it’s among artworks in an April 25 live auction by Julien’s auction house in Los Angeles.

Joining The Mothership in the sale catalog are two of Banksy’s more important works. (You may recall a piece by Banksy that self-shredded on cue when auctioned for more than $1 million by Sotheby’s in London last Oct. 5). Other artists include Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Mr. Brainwash and Pablo Picasso.

Ann Berchtold, Paragon’s marketing rep, explained that the artwork was created specifically for that site. While technically belonging to the artist, the exhibition agreement gave building owners permission to remove the pieces at the close of the show.

After contacting the Museum of Contemporary Art, Paragon reached out to the artist’s representatives and offered The Mothership back to Invader at his removal expense. They responded that Invader wasn’t interested and they could keep it, Berchtold said. They were given permission to re-sell the art but warned that, once it was removed from the space for which it was designed, the artist could no longer authenticate it.

Nevertheless, the auction house placed an estimated value of $60,000 to $80,000 on the Invader piece — not bad for street art. But there’s a catch. The buyer must remove the artwork from the building within 90 days of the sale at his or her own expense.

“A contractor has been consulted and provided an estimate of approximately $7,000,” said Mozell Miley-Bailey of Julien’s Auctions.

Read more from Diane Bell’s column here.