A Bansky Collector Is Scrapping Plans for a Street Art Museum—and Blaming It on a Welsh Town’s Council

John Brandler, who bought a Banksy mural off the side of a garage, says he'll leave the work on display in the Welsh town for now.

Visitors crowd around Banksy's work in Port Talbot, Wales. Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images.

An art dealer who bought a mural Banksy painted on the side of a garage in the Welsh town of Port Talbot says he has abandoned plans to open a street art museum there.

John Brandler, who bought Banksy’s Season’s Greetings mural for a low six figures and removed it from the garage, planned to make the work the centerpiece of the new institution. But he now says he has decided to scrap the plans because the local council downsized the space it originally offered for the planned institution, in Ty’r Orsaf, a former police station. The Street Art Museum, or SAM, would have been the first museum of its kind in the UK.

“The whole thing has been a disaster from day one,” Brandler told Wales Online. The dealer said he planned to loan additional works by street artists including Pure Evil, My Dog Sighs, and Blek le rat to the museum, but hasn’t been granted access to the space.

The council has said that it “will do our best to bring this to fruition,” but that it hasn’t so far received any exhibition plans that would necessitate a bigger space. Season’s Greetings is already at the police station, visible from the street between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., when shutters are drawn for the evening. “The artwork can currently be accommodated in a single unit and we have not had a definitive list of exhibits which would assist further planning,” a council spokesperson told Wales Online.

Banksy's mural on a garage wall in, Port Talbot, south Wales. Photo by Ben Birchall PA/Getty Image.

Banksy’s mural on a garage wall in Port Talbot, south Wales. Photo by Ben Birchall PA/Getty Image.

The piece, painted on the corner of the building, shows a young child sticking out his tongue, seemingly to taste falling snowflakes. But the other side of the wall depicts a dumpster fire, revealing that the flakes are actually ash falling from the sky. The work is apparently a commentary on Port Talbot’s dubious honor of being the UK’s most polluted region, home to the country’s largest steel plant.

Season’s Greetings was an immediate sensation, attracting 20,000 visitors over just three weeks and forcing garage owner Michael Lewis to pay for protective measures such as a fence, plastic sheeting, and security guards.

Ill-equipped to manage an artwork of Season’s Greetings’ significance, Lewis sold the artwork to Brandler. (“I don’t think I’ll miss it,” he told the Telegraph.)

The mural was coated with resin to protect it from crumbling and was removed from the garage at the end of month, according to the BBC. The museum plans called for the mural stay on view at the new space for at least three years, a commitment Brandler says he will still honor.

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