Banksy breaks cover to join debate over 'Mobile Lovers' artwork

The mysterious graffiti artist wants the work to go to a Bristol boys' club

Ian Johnston
Friday 09 May 2014 08:44
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A print of the latest officially confirmed Banksy artwork, named Mobile Lovers, featuring a man and a woman embraced and looking at their mobile phones, that has been placed where the original was removed from, is seen close to the Broad Plain & Riverside
A print of the latest officially confirmed Banksy artwork, named Mobile Lovers, featuring a man and a woman embraced and looking at their mobile phones, that has been placed where the original was removed from, is seen close to the Broad Plain & Riverside

Banksy has made a rare intervention into public life to ensure that one of his artworks – probably worth millions of pounds — goes to a boys’ club in Bristol.

In doing so, however, the mysterious graffiti artist may have revealed a new detail about his past.

When his piece ‘Mobile Lovers’ - an image of two lovers kissing while using smartphones - appeared in a doorway in Clement Street in the city, it was taken away by the leader of nearby Broad Plain Boys' Club to help its fundraising effort.

Bristol City Council then appeared to claim ownership, saying the work was on its property, and took it to a museum.

However, Banksy then wrote to the club to say: “As far as I'm concerned, you can have it.”

The letter is signed in graffiti style and has since been authenticated by the artist’s representative, BBC News reported.

The letter opens: “Dear Dennis, I hope this finds you well. As you know I recently painted on a doorway near the club.”

He says he does not usually admit “committing criminal damage” but added that he was “a great admirer of the work done at the club” and would be “chuffed” if his letter would help the club claim the picture.

“I assume you're familiar with the quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln – ‘Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left behind by those who hustle,’” he adds.

Dennis Stinchcombe, the club leder who found the note, said: “I'm absolutely elated. Words don't express how delighted I am. As soon as I read it and saw the signature I knew what it was.”

He said he thought the artist had visited Broad Plain during his childhood.

“I think as a young man (Banksy) went to Barton Hill youth club and probably came into my club several times,” Mr Stinchcombe said. “He's come clean to us and it's lovely.”

George Ferguson, the mayor of Bristol, said Banksy’s intervention had resulted in a “proper resolution”.

“We've done our job by looking after it and in the meantime we've collected a bit more for the boys' club, and thousands of people in Bristol and farther afield have seen it,” he told the BBC.

“This was never a case of Dennis and I not seeing eye-to-eye. Dennis has said that if it fetches as much at auction as it could do, the money will go not just to the boys’ club but also to youth projects in Bristol.”

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