Approximately two months after Banksy’s mural ‘Art Buff’ appeared in Folkstone – and was subsequently vandalised by the addition of ‘phallic imagery’ which resulted in its controversial removal – the work has been flown to the US to be sold at an art fair in Miami. 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.
The mural by the celebrated artist was then covered with plastic sheeting and was awaiting restoration by the local council – as the damage would appear to be reversible; was subsequently removed.
Initially MP for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins, appealed for the stencilled mural to be reinstated at Payers Park in Folkestone, Kent.
Many 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.
In a statement at the time; Shepway District Council, said it was “disappointed” to hear that ‘Art Buff’ had been removed from the arcade wall at the weekend by the owners “who are no longer able to maintain it”. Mr Collins, also appealed to the Godden family, who own the arcade, to save the Banksy piece for Folkestone.
The MP said: “I was very disturbed to hear that the Banksy artwork on the wall of Palace Amusements in Folkestone was removed at the request of the Godden family who own the building. It’s being sold because the Goddens are heartily fed up with keeping it safe. And they’ve decided they want rid of it, being magnanimous, they don’t really care [about what the people of Folkestone think] – he told Academy FM.
He added: “Rochelle Godden’s husband, Jimmy Godden, died of cancer a few years ago and she’s going to put any funds from it to her cancer trust.”
The artwork was expected to be auctioned off by the Bankrobber Gallery in London as a picture of the mural, before the graffiti attack was removed, was being displayed on the homepage of its website. Admirers of the artwork also left messages on the Bankrobber Gallery’s Facebook page voicing their disappointment.
Now the restored piece has been flown to the US to become part of a Banksy show at Context Art Miami art sale. 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. Mr Barton said the piece could fetch up to £470,000. Proceeds of which will go to the Jim Godden Memorial Cancer Trust.