Banksy Art to Save Boys’ Club
Last month, a piece of Banksy street art appeared in Bristol and led to an argument over who actually owns the piece, which has now been resolved by the artist himself.
The Mobile Lovers, which depicts an embracing couple, using their mobile phones over the other’s shoulder, was found by Dennis Stinchcombe, manager of the nearby Broad Plains Boy’s Club. He took the piece down, but the Council laid claim to the art and temporarily confiscated it, hanging it in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery for safe keeping until ownership could be determined.
Auctioneers have suggested the piece could be worth anywhere between £100,000 and £500,000, leaning towards the higher end.
“It is a big size and a new and unique image. That makes it incredibly interesting to collectors,” explained Angus Maguire from Dreweatts and Bloomsbury Auctions. He added that the art had everything: the collectors, the uniqueness and the provenance, with a story having already evolved around the artwork.
Just a month ago, the 120-year-old club was trying to raise £120,000 to defy an imminent threat of closure and bleak future. They have, however, now received a letter from Banksy himself informing them that not only does the art belong to them, but they can sell it to raise the money they so desperately need.
Addressed to the manager of the boys’ club, the letter starts: “Dear Dennis, I hope this finds you well. As you know, I recently painted on a doorway near your club.”
He went on to say that while he does not usually admit he is the person behind some of his street art (because it could be deemed as criminal damage), he is a great admirer of some of the club’s work and would like to help them out, insinuating something about his background. He added that he would be “chuffed” if the letter would help the club claim ownership of the art.
He also included a quote that Abraham Lincoln has been credited with saying: “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left behind by those who hustle.”
“I am absolutely elated,” Stinchcombe declared. “Words do not express how delighted I am.”
Stinchcombe added that as soon as he read the letter and saw the since-authenticated graffiti-like signature at the bottom of the letter, he knew what it was and how it could help them.
“I think as a young man [Banksy] went to Barton Hill Youth Club and probably came into my club many times,” speculated Stinchcombe. “He has come clean to us and it is lovely.”