PARK CITY -- The Egyptian Theatre is launching a campaign to spare one of its most precious pieces of art from the auction block.
The theatre is home to a rarely seen work by the mysterious street artist Banksy, who tagged a stage door during the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where a documentary about him was screening.
"I thought, 'Hallelujah! Money fell from the sky!'" laughed Randy Barton, the Egyptian Theatre's manager.
The theatre originally planned to sell the image of a rat sporting 3-D glasses to the highest bidder. Pieces like it have sold for as much as $1 million at auction (even though Banksy himself reportedly opposes such sales). The theatre needs the money -- its youth theatre program was recently evicted from the old mall across the street to make way for a high-end condo development.
"We're a nonprofit group," said Barton. "Every day, we're in the business of art. Banksy's work is meant to be viewed outdoors were it was created, not hanging on a private wall for friends to admire. So we've decided to go the opposite."
The Egyptian Theatre recently launched a campaign to "Save Our Banksy," preserving it for the community to see and fund the youth theatre program.
"This is the right thing to do," Barton said.
Banksy is believed to have tagged seven spots in Park City during his brief stay during Sundance. Some were immediately lost.
"Two of them were painted over by the city. Smart, right?" Barton said. "Two were later destroyed in construction projects meant to enhance the town. Two have been on Main Street, one at (Java Cow), one at the Cunningham. Just beautiful pieces and it's a battle to protect them."
David Noll recently pleaded guilty to felony criminal mischief in vandalism of the Banksy works at Java Cow and the Cunningham Building. In a YouTube video taunting Park City police, he claimed to be jealous of Banksy's success.
Barton said he was grateful to have been able to save their work, but to display it will include a frame and bulletproof glass. The plan is to hang it in an alley for everyone to see (if enough money can be raised).
"It won't be just a urine-soaked hallway," Barton laughed. "It will be a place for art!"