Art dealer: 'Mistake' to auction Banksy Folkestone mural

The mural called Art Buff is on a wall in Payer Park in Folkestone
Image caption The image appeared on a wall in Payers Park in Folkestone during the town's Triennial Festival in September 2014

An art dealer who put a mural by street artist Banksy up for sale has admitted he did not check who owned the wall it was painted on.

Robin Barton was prevented from selling Art Buff after a charity obtained a High Court injunction following its removal in 2014.

The tenant of the building, Dreamland Leisure Limited, was told it did not have rights over the painting.

Mr Barton said he only later discovered a freeholder owned the building.

Image caption Art Buff was removed from the wall and sent to Miami, where it failed to sell at auction

Art Buff, which depicts a woman staring at an empty plinth, appeared on a wall in Folkestone in September 2014.

Mr Barton said he had been under the impression the mural was owned by Dreamland Leisure Limited which is linked to Dreamland park owners, the Godden family.

He admitted he should have checked who owned the painting.

"It was only months later it was discovered there was a 'larger freeholder'," he said.

"I work on handshakes only, so it was a mistake on my part," Mr Barton told BBC South East Inside Out programme.

Art Buff appeared in the heart of Folkestone's Creative Quarter during the 2014 Folkestone Triennial and was removed before the end of the art festival.

'Fuss' fuels value

In September 2014 Mr Barton sent the painting to Miami to be sold at auction on behalf of the Godden family, expecting it to fetch up to £470,000, but it did not sell.

"They tend to take two or three years to sell," he said.

"With the Art Buff piece itself, it's not a pretty thing so you have to have a back story which is going to make it collectable to someone."

The Creative Foundation, a charity which runs the Folkestone Triennial art event, obtained an injunction in the High Court against Dreamland Leisure Limited and Jeremy and Jordan Godden preventing them from selling or otherwise dealing with it.

It was returned to Folkestone in October but has not gone back on public display.

BBC Inside Out South East is on BBC One in the South East region on Monday 25 January at 19:30 BST, nationwide on the BBC iPlayer for 28 days thereafter.

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