Local Council Blocks Removal of Banksy Mural

Banksy, Spy Booth. Photo: Jules Annan/Barcroft Media

After British street artist Banksy’s recent “Spies” mural in Cheltenham was concealed behind scaffolding, allegedly to be removed and sent to auction (see artnet News report), local businesses sought to raise enough funds to dissuade the owner of the building where it had been painted, to no avail. But now, seemingly at the eleventh hour, the Cheltenham Borough Council has stepped in and issued a stop work order, the BBC reports.

The order, posted on the exterior of the scaffolding encasing the Fairview Road home, prohibits any more work from being done at the site through July 30.

The coveted mural, painted surreptitiously on the exterior of the house in April (see artnet News report), features a trio of spies arranged around a phone booth, a fitting work for a site just three miles from one of the UK’s largest surveillance facilities, known as GCHQ.

The town’s business-owners, seeing the mural as a potentially major tourist attraction, have been trying to raise £1 million to keep the mural intact. However, Robin Barton of London’s Bankrobber gallery tells the BBC that “pressure is growing on the owners” of the building to sell the mural to an American buyer for a seven-figure price.

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