A Banksy mural, which appeared on the side of a garage in Port Talbot in December, has been sold to a private collector for a “six-figure sum”.
Season’s Greetings was purchased by the Essex gallery owner John Brandler from steelworker Ian Lewis, who legally owned the graffiti when it was painted on the side of his shed. He said the sale was “a weight off my shoulders”.
I’m still thinking about what to do. Now the stress has been lifted off me – Ian Lewis
Blander has promised that the work will remain on display locally, at least for the time being. 20,000 visitors have viewed the artwork since it appeared just before the holiday period.
Mr Brandler is scheduled to meet Neath Port Talbot council and the Welsh Government to find a safe place for the work. Brandler already owns several works by Banksy. He said Season’s Greetings would stay in Port Talbot for “a minimum of two to three years”.
“It could be the control magnet for other tourist-based opportunities in the town. “I have other pieces by Banksy and, depending what is discussed with the local council and the Welsh Government, I could have half a dozen Banksys on display in the town. “Let’s take it and move it into the middle of the town where the public can see it without anybody stopping them.”
“Ian was amazing not going for the highest price to keep it in the community,” Mr Brandler said. “I think an awful lot of people would have taken the money and run, but he wasn’t selfish and he deserves recognition for that.”
Mr Lewis, 55, who found the mural on his garage one week before Christmas, said the whole experience had been “life changing”. He said: “I think the town has fallen in love with it, I think everybody loves it and it would have been a shame for it to move from the area. “There were lots of offers, lots of options of what people wanted to do with it. There were art collectors, dealers, people who wanted to take it away basically.”
“The artwork is going to be moved and I’ll rebuild the garage. I think that every graffiti artist in the area is going to come down and have a go at it now though, although I don’t think Banksy will be back again,” Mr Lewis added.
“I’m still thinking about what to do. Now the stress has been lifted off me I should have more time to think about what I really want to do. I’m planning to stay here, maybe a few little holidays, but I’m going to stay in Port Talbot.
“Personally I think it was an ideal spot for the theme of the artwork. I don’t think it was anything to do with me, just the garage.”
Actor Michael Sheen contributed to some of the costs of security for Banksy Port Talbot while The Welsh Government offered to take on security arrangements while Mr Lewis considered his options.