Expert Says Dilapidated Banksy Mural ‘Spy Booth’ is Worthless
It was valued at $1.4 million two years ago.
The art dealer and Banksy specialist Robin Barton, who previously valued the anonymous British street artist’s mural Spy Booth (2014) at £1 million ($1.4 million) has lowered its valuation to zero.
The mural, picturing trench coat-wearing detectives holding listening devices near a BT telephone box, appeared in Cheltenham, England in April 2014. The artwork—located near the UK intelligence headquarters GCHQ—popped up in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s controversial surveillance tactics.
After Banksy confirmed that it was in fact his handiwork, reports emerged that the property’s landlord had sold the piece. (The owner which was subsequently denied such allegations). Local residents banded together to save the mural for the community, with the local council eventually stepping in to block its removal on the basis of the home having Grade II listed status.
In a report commissioned by the local council and and property owner, Barton wrote, “It is my professional opinion that the dilapidated state of the mural and the listed status of the flank wall that the work has been applied to has resulted in the work having no cable commercial value.”
He explained, “This assessment is based on more than ten years of experience working with and successfully marketing similarly difficult works by this artist.”
The owner David Possee told the Mirror that plans are in place to restore the property and the mural. “The first is to renovate the property myself and the second is to offer it to local businessman Hekmat Kaveh, who has made me an offer to purchase the property and restore the Banksy for the benefit of Cheltenham.”
The property was put on the market in January for £210,000 ($306,000) after Possee claimed that the mural “caused me signifiant financial problems,” because the artwork prevented him from conducting necessary repairs to the house.
In the sale listing the property is advertised as “a rare opportunity to acquire a Grade II listed, Victorian, three bedroom end terrace property with a genuine ‘Banksy’ on the gable wall.” However it also states that the house will need a “comprehensive schedule of refurbishment.”
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