Just over a month since Banksy’s mural ‘Art Buff’ appeared in Folkstone – and was subsequently vandalised – by the addition of ‘phallic imagery’ it has been removed. 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 – said to be valued at around £300,000 – was then covered with plastic sheeting and was awaiting restoration by the local council – as the damage would appear to be reversible; but has now been removed – from the wall of an amusement arcade which has caused upset in a seaside town.
MP for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins, appealed for the stencilled mural to be reinstated at Payers Park in Folkestone, Kent.
The Banksy website had 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.
But now in a statement; 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.”
Now the artwork is expected to be auctioned off by the Bankrobber Gallery in London as a picture of the mural, before the graffiti attack was removed, is being displayed on the homepage of its website.
Art dealer Robin Barton told Folkestone’s community radio station – Academy FM – that any proceeds of an auction would be given to a cancer charity set up in memory of Mr Godden’s late father, Jimmy Godden.
Kent Police have also confirmed that they had been called to Payers Park on Saturday after people objecting to the artwork’s removal had turned up to make their views known. “Police attended the artwork in Folkestone to prevent any breach of the peace while work was carried out in the area. No arrests were made.” Stated a Police spokesman.
Admirers of the artwork also left messages on the Bankrobber Gallery’s Facebook page voicing their disappointment.