Campaigners say that Banksy’s ‘Art Buff’ mural could return to Folkestone, after the work reportedly failed to sell at Art Basel Miami. As selling the painting on the open market could be difficult, according to insiders. Hrag Vartanian, editor-in-chief and co-founder of art blog Hyperallergic, told Kent Online that the work will also be hard to sell on the open market because it has not been authenticated by Pest Control – a company that issues paperwork for genuine Banksys.
He stated to the publication: “They [the works] aren’t approved by Banksy’s Pest Control, which means no reputable auction house will touch them. This impacts the value. I’m not sure I know of any major museums that shows non-Pest Control approved pieces. Considering there’s ‘official’ Banksys available, I can see why few want to spend on unofficial ones.”
The work was predicted to sell for about £450,000 but failed to do so. it is now thought to remain in the possession of New York’s Keszler Gallery, which curated the exhibition of Banksy’s work at Art Miami earlier this month. Now local campaigners from Folkestone’s Creative Foundation hope Art Buff’s “unofficial” status leaves leaves a faint opportunity for the painting to be returned to the town, arguing it was created as part of the Triennial and therefore belongs in situ.
A spokesman told Kent Online: “The Creative Foundation believes Banksy intended Art Buff to be part of the Folkestone Triennial as he posted a picture of it on his website saying it was “Part of the Folkestone Triennial. Kind of.” We are very keen for the Banksy to return to Folkestone but this requires Banksy to confirm that his intention was for it to be part of the Triennial and a gift to the people of Folkestone. If Banksy confirms that he did intend to give Art Buff to the Triennial, then other claims to ownership would fall away. We would love the work to come back to Folkestone and feel that if enough people ask him, Banksy might confirm that he did intend to give it to the Triennial. Please Tweet or post on Facebook #banksy4folkestone.”
Although American art dealer Stephan Keszler, owner of the Keszler gallery, has other ideas. He has stated that Bankys’s work is for “people with taste and money” and argues it’s “unreasonable” to expect the street art to remain in situ. He added: “It’s very unreasonable. Every complainer would stop complaining if Banksy would paint on their property.”
When Keszler was asked if it was right to have removed the Banksy’s from its original location, he retorted: “Not at all. Without our involvement this and 90% of Banksy’s street works would have been destroyed.”
The piece depicts a woman staring at an empty plinth while wearing headphones with her hands clasped behind her back; 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.
Art Buff was then removed from the wall of Palace Amusements in Rendezvous Street on September 30, and placed in storage briefly before being shipped to American where it joined other “unofficial” Banksy works in an exhibition at Art Basel Miami.
The work was put up for sale after the building owners, the Godden family, were no longer prepared to carry the burden of protecting the work, art dealer Robin Barton confirmed at the time. Mr Barton hoped that the piece would fetch up to £470,000. As the proceeds of which were originally intended to go to the Jim Godden Memorial Cancer Trust.