In December of last year campaigners stated that Banksy’s ‘Art Buff’ mural might return to Folkestone, after the work reportedly failed to sell at Art Basel Miami. As selling the painting on the open market turned out to be difficult, according to insiders, as the work had not been authenticated by Pest Control – a company that issues paperwork for genuine Banksys.
Now a London judge Richard Arnold ruled that the mural that had once been valued at about $720,000, or £466,000 must be returned to Folkestone, according to a report in Bloomberg Business. The work was created last year on the side of an amusement arcade called Dreamland, and had been attributed to the Bristol street artist.
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. 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.
Judge Arnold ruled that Dreamland aka “the tenant” had “no reasonable prospect of establishing that it was entitled, let alone obliged, to remove the mural.” Now the work – which is currently being held in a New York storage unit – must be returned to the UK and delivered to the Creative Foundation, a Folkestone charity that is tasked with regenerating the town through creativity and the arts.
Boodle Hatfield – the law firm representing Creative Foundation – released a statement saying that the verdict will impact “art law and future cases involving Banksy’s and other street art. Our client is delighted that the artwork is being returned for the enjoyment of the people of Folkestone.”