Culture minister calls for return of Folkestone Banksy

The mural called Art Buff is on a wall in Payer Park in Folkestone The image appeared on a wall in Payers Park in Folkestone during the town's Triennial Festival

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A government minister has called for a Banksy mural, removed from a Kent amusement arcade and sent for sale in Miami, to be returned to the community.

Conservative culture minister Ed Vaizey told the House of Commons he wanted to see the work returned to the people of Folkstone.

The image, removed from the arcade on Payers Park, shows a woman wearing headphones, staring at an empty plinth.

Two weeks after it appeared, the work was defaced with a cartoon penis.

"Art Buff", was painted in September during Folkestone's two-month long Triennial Festival.

'Great regret'

Art dealer Robin Barton confirmed the piece would go on sale for about 750,000 US dollars (£470,000) at the Context Art Miami event next month.

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins raised the issue in the Commons, saying the mural's removal was a matter of "great regret".

Mr Vaizey said: "Sometimes it makes one wonder about the motivation of one's fellow man...that somebody should seek to use that windfall.

"So I very much hope it will return and be donated to the community in Folkestone."

Mr Barton said the Banksy would be shown in Miami with seven or eight pieces by the artist.

"The unsolicited work was the subject of a number of attacks, including one where a cartoon phallus was applied to the plinth, now thought to have been the work of the artist on a second clandestine visit to this sleepy seaside town," he said.

He said the Godden family, who own the arcade, were no longer prepared to protect the work and had sanctioned its removal at the end of the festival.

Proceeds of any sale will go to the Jim Godden Memorial Cancer Trust.

Defaced Banksy image The Banksy mural was defaced two weeks after it appeared when a penis was added

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