Banksy mural in Wales 'sells for six figure sum'

Gallery owner John Brandler has purchased the artwork

Jack Shepherd
Friday 18 January 2019 11:36 GMT

A Banksy mural on the side of a steelworker's garage has been sold to an art dealer for a reported "six-figure sum".

Gallery owner John Brandler said the artwork would remain at its current location in Port Talbot, South Wales, for a minimum of two years before being mmoved.

The work, which depicts a child playing in falling ash coming from a skip fire, marks the first Banksy to appear in Wales and is believed to be a comment on pollution linked to the nearby steel plant.

Steelworker Ian Lewis previously said the artwork appearing on his garage on 18 December last year was like "Christmas had come early", but later confessed he was "struggling" to manage with the attention.

New owner Mr Brandler said he already owned several Banksy pieces, and suggested putting "five or six" more of the artist's works on public display in the Welsh town to help tourism.

Mr Brandler, from Brentwood, said: "I'm so chuffed to have it, you have no idea.

"This isn't the most valuable Banksy I own but it's certainly the one I'm most proud of. Because it's so brilliant. It has an instant message, and it's punchy. It's not just a girl holding a balloon or a bunch of flowers or something. This is a really strong social message.

"Ian was getting offers from people who wanted to take it away and not work with the town.

"But I want to make Port Talbot a go-to place rather than a go-from place.

"Within a short time I'm thinking of bringing five or six more Banksys to Port Talbot. Let's do an exhibition.

"If we all work together I think we will get tonnes of people coming to Port Talbot."

The art dealer said he had given a "written guarantee" the artwork would stay in Port Talbot "for a minimum of two to three years", and added: "If it works, it can stay longer. If it doesn't work then I'll move it to a different industrial city."

Mr Brandler said he was in Cardiff on Friday morning to meet with representatives from the Welsh Assembly today to see "what happens next".

Hollywood actor Michael Sheen has been contributing towards security costs to protect the artwork in his hometown, which included a donation to a protective plastic screen currently covering the artwork.

Additioanl reporting by agencies.

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