London Judge Orders $720,000 Banksy ‘Art Buff’ Mural Back To UK
London judge Richard Arnold ruled that a Banksy mural that had once been valued at about $720,000 must be returned to Folkestone, a port town on the English Channel, after it failed to sell in the US, according to a report in Bloomberg Business.
The work, titled Art Buff, was painted last year on the side of an amusement arcade called Dreamland, and had been attributed to the mysterious street artist. It depicts an older woman wearing headphones and audio museum guide strapped across her body peering over an empty plinth.
A section of the wall was removed by the proprietors of Dreamland and sent to the New York-based Keszler Gallery, which in turn brought it to Art Miami, where it was exhibited with a price of about £470,000 or $720,000. “We are preserving and we are salvaging his works,” Stephan Keszler told the Miami Herald in a 2012 interview. “We show his works, which were only made for a few people in Palestine or Bethlehem, and now 50,000 or 60,000 or 70,000 people will see this. So what is wrong about what we are doing?”
Judge Arnold ruled that Dreamland aka “the tenant” had “no reasonable prospect of establishing that it was entitled, let alone obliged, to remove the mural.” The work, which is currently being held in a New York storage unit, must be returned to the UK and delivered to the Creative Foundation, a Folkestone charity that is tasked with regenerating the town through creativity and the arts.
The ruling could set a precedent for other cases involving ownership of street art, several of which have already erupted over works created by Banksy in public places, such as one called Lovers, that was taken off a youth club wall amid accusations that the movers were holding it “hostage.”
Boodle Hatfield, the law firm representing Creative Foundation released a statement quoted in the Bloomberg report saying that the verdict will impact “art law and future cases involving Banksy’s and other street art,. Our client is delighted that the artwork is being returned for the enjoyment of the people of Folkestone.”
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