A British Couple Actually Paid Nearly $250,000 to Remove a Banksy Mural From Their Building Due to the ‘Extremely Stressful’ Upkeep

Most people dream of having Banksy tag their home—until it happens.

This possible Banksy work of a seagull swooping onto a dumpster in Lowestoft on the East coast of England on August 8, 2021. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.
This possible Banksy work of a seagull swooping onto a dumpster in Lowestoft on the East coast of England on August 8, 2021. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.

Banksy has left the building. In August 2021, Garry and Gokean Coutts, two unwitting landlords, learned from tenants that their building in Lowestoft, U.K., had been graced with a new avian artwork, courtesy of the secretive artist’s “Great British Spraycation” series. They had seen the anonymous scaffolding go up, but assumed it was for municipal repairs on their chimney.

The work inflated the property’s value, but brought equal hassle. The Lowestoft Town Council, keen to protect the new tourist attraction, notified the homeowners that it could put a preservation order on the work, but that they would have to maintain it at an annual cost of £40,000 ($49,000).

Art fans started lining up to see the mural. “I have had to hire a night watchman to look after it after someone stole part of it and tried to sell it on Facebook,” Mr. Coutts told The Daily Mail.

Someone else tried carrying off the scaffolding. Other vandals, armed with white paint and intentions to cover the work, were intercepted. “At first, it was obviously incredible but as things have gone on it has become extremely stressful,” Coutts concluded. “I’m not sure Banksy realizes the unintended consequences on homeowners.”

An attendant takes a photo of visitors beside another gull-based work by Banksy at the artist’s Dismaland Bemusement Park, which opened August 28, 2015 in Weston-Super-Mare, England. Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images.

Lowestoft Town Council has not commented on its responsibility to help care for the artwork. For those left with questions, Sacramento-based David Sobon, who worked with his city to stage Wide Open Walls mural festival since 2016, noted: “In my experience, most cities can’t make decisions quickly—there’s too much red tape.”

In April, the couple hired a 40-foot crane to haul off the 50,000-pound wall—art and all—costing them £200,000 ($246,300). Onlookers lamented the move.

Local art dealer John Brandler wanted to preserve the mural in an art trail or museum. “Banksy gave the town the most amazing gift,” he told the Daily Mail. “It has to be worth seven figures.” The Coutts plan to sell the piece to recoup their losses, promising to replace it with a replica.

The council acknowledged it was within the couple’s rights to remove the work from their property, and that “Banksy’s works, by their nature, may not always be permanent features.”


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