Just two weeks after a Banksy mural appeared in Folkstone, it has been vandalised. The piece depicts a woman staring at an empty plinth while wearing headphones with her hands clasped behind her back. The piece is called ‘Art Buff’. On Sunday evening, an act of vandalism was perpetrated against the artwork; the unknown attacker spray-painted the addition of a penis to the plinth of the artwork in Payers Park in Folkestone, Kent.
The mural by the celebrated artist – said to be valued at around £300,000 – has now been covered with plastic sheeting and is now awaiting restoration by the local council – as the damage would appear to be reversible.
The Banksy website uploaded ‘before and after’ pictures of the mural stating in a telling and disappointed comment on the attack; that the image was “part of the Folkestone triennial. Kind of”. Initially viewers rushed to see the new work by Banksy causing an increase in tourism for the area, when it arrived last month; and Shepway district council, recognising the value of the work to the local culture, issued a statement saying that it would work with the owner of the building to ensure the work remained undamaged.
Among the official artists attracted by the triennial was Yoko Ono, widow of the late Beatle John Lennon, among others. The triennial is a two-month showcase of art in the seaside resort; which made previous headlines at this year’s launch of the event when Berlin-based artist Michael Sailstorfer hid 30 bars of 24-carat gold, worth an estimated £10,000, on Folkestone beach.
A Kent police spokesman told the Guardian that: “We were called at 8pm on Sunday to a report of criminal damage in Rendezvous Street, Folkestone. It was reported that artwork on a wall had been painted on and officers attended the scene. Inquiries are ongoing.”