Banksy piece 'saved from death sentence', says collector who removed mural

17 February 2021, 20:03

The Banksy mural in Nottingham will be moved to a museum in Suffolk
The Banksy mural in Nottingham will be moved to a museum in Suffolk. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A Banksy mural in Nottingham has been saved from a "death sentence", according to the art collector who bought and removed the piece amid local protests.

The artwork originally appeared on the corner of Rothesay Avenue in Lenton last October but was safely removed on Wednesday morning.

John Brandler, 65, who owns Brandler Galleries in Brentwood, Essex, and is an expert on Banksy's work, paid "a six-figure sum" to buy the piece.

He said the painting - which depicts a girl hula hooping with a bike tyre - had begun accumulating mould within its protective plastic casing.

Mr Brandler - whose gallery also bought the Season's Greetings Banksy in Port Talbot, Wales - explained that he will restore the mural and move it to a museum in Suffolk.

However, one local resident said it was a "shame" that all that is left of the artwork - which had "brought a lot of life" to the community during the coronavirus pandemic - is a wooden board and debris.

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The Banksy artwork originally appeared in Lenton, Nottingham
The Banksy artwork originally appeared in Lenton, Nottingham. Picture: PA

But Mr Brandler said that if he "hadn't bought it and removed it, in two years' time there wouldn't have been a Banksy there at all".

"I appreciate the council were trying to protect it from vandals coming along but actually it was creating a death sentence for it," he added.

"I am pleased I've been able to save it from destruction."

The art expert said he will be paying thousands of pounds to send the piece to Scotland for restoration.

It will then be moved to a museum in Bury St Edmunds where it will be put on display. However, Mr Brandler said the entire exhibition could return to the mural's home in Nottingham in the future.

"This isn't a one-way street, work with me and it would be lovely to bring the whole show back," he added.

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When asked whether he had a message for local residents disappointed by its removal, Mr Brandler said: "Somebody told me it belongs to the people of Nottingham - no, it belonged to the person whose wall it was on.

"From what I hear they offered it to a number of organisations in Nottingham and nobody was interested.

"It's very easy to say 'we must keep it' - all right, you pay for it, you pay for the maintenance, the security, the insurance, the restoration."

Dan Golstein, a University of Nottingham student, said he was woken at around 6am on Wednesday to the sound of the Banksy piece and the wall it rests on being removed.

"In terms of how I feel as a local, I think it's a real shame that they decided to sell," the 21-year-old said.

"I understand why, but ultimately it was a treasure to the community and it's sad that now what is left is wooden board and debris.

"It was installed at a really difficult time for Lenton residents due to high Covid rates, and it brought a lot of life."