- Banksy‘s latest known artwork has been sold for a six-figure sum, it was announced on Friday.
- The famous street artist had painted a mural on a garage in Port Talbot, Wales, entitled “Season’s Greetings.”
- The garage owner, steelworker Ian Lewis, said the sale was a weight off his shoulders after he was left with security and legal bills to foot in order to protect the artwork.
- “Season’s Greetings” was purchased by Essex-based Banksy collector John Brandler who promised to keep the mural in Port Talbot.
- Brandler told the BBC that Lewis turned down higher offers in order to keep the art in the Welsh town.
British steelworker Ian Lewis never thought he’d be losing sleep over a highly-valuable piece of artwork on his property, but that’s exactly what happened when Banksy painted a mural on his garage.
Thousands of people flocked to the garage in Port Talbot, Wales, to get a glimpse of the famous street artist’s latest work, which was entitled: “Season’s Greetings.” As a result, Lewis had to organise 24-hour security to ensure that no one was able to damage the mural – which was attempted on a number of occasions.
Finally, though, Lewis can rest easy as the artwork has been sold to Essex-based Banksy collector John Brandler who plans to keep the mural in Port Talbot.
While the exact amount paid for the piece has not been disclosed, Bradler told the BBC that the sum was more than £100,000 ($US129,000).
He also revealed that Lewis had turned down higher offers for the mural in order to keep it in Port Talbot.
“Ian was amazing not going for the highest price to keep it in the community,” Brandler told the BBC. “I think an awful lot of people would have taken the money and run, but he wasn’t selfish and he deserves recognition for that.”
“It’s where it belongs,” he added.
“It could be the control magnet for other tourist-based opportunities in the town.
“I have other pieces by Banksy and, depending what is discussed with the local council and the Welsh Government, I could have half a dozen Banksys on display in the town.
“Let’s take it and move it into the middle of the town where the public can see it without anybody stopping them.”
Brandler said “Season’s Greetings” would stay in Port Talbot for “a minimum of two to three years.”
When viewed from one side, the artwork appears to show a boy playing in the snow. But move around the corner, and the full image shows the boy covered in ash thrown up by a dumpster fire.
Banksy’s mural appears to highlight the plague of polluted air and is the artist’s first artwork in Wales. Port Talbot is the site of a major steelworks, which employs around 10% of the town’s population. According to locals, the steelworks generates considerable pollution, affecting their health.
Lewis told the BBC that the artwork had been “life-changing” for him.
He said: “I think the town has fallen in love with it, I think everybody loves it and it would have been a shame for it to move from the area.
“There were lots of offers, lots of options of what people wanted to do with it. There were art collectors, dealers, people who wanted to take it away basically.”
“The artwork is going to be moved and I’ll rebuild the garage. I think that every graffiti artist in the area is going to come down and have a go at it now though, although I don’t think Banksy will be back again,” Mr Lewis added.
“I’m still thinking about what to do. Now the stress has been lifted off me I should have more time to think about what I really want to do. I’m planning to stay here, maybe a few little holidays, but I’m going to stay in Port Talbot.
“Personally I think it was an ideal spot for the theme of the artwork. I don’t think it was anything to do with me, just the garage.”
Gary Owen, a 55-year-old former steelworker, revealed that he had written to Banksy via Instagram to ask the artist to create a new mural. The artist never replied but, some months later, the new artwork appeared in Port Talbot.
The BBC reported that the Welsh Government offered to take on security arrangements while Lewis considered his options and locally-born actor Michael Sheen helped pay security and legal bills.
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