Wales

Banksy artwork in Port Talbot sold for 'six-figure sum'

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Media captionIan Lewis says he "needs help" to look after the artwork

The latest Banksy artwork, which appeared on the side of a garage in Port Talbot in December, has been sold privately for a "six-figure sum".

Season's Greetings has been bought by Essex-based gallery owner John Brandler, who said he will keep the graffiti work in the town.

About 20,000 people are thought to have visited the artwork in the past month.

Steelworker Ian Lewis, who originally owned the artwork, said the sale was "a weight off my shoulders".

Brandler Galleries, owned by Mr Brandler, has several works by the Bristolian artist.

Mr Brandler said Season's Greetings would stay in Port Talbot for "a minimum of two to three years".

"It's where it belongs," he said.

"It could be the control magnet for other tourist-based opportunities in the town.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Ian Lewis (left) said he was relieved to sell the Banksy artwork to John Brandler

"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."

He said he had paid more than £100,000 for the artwork.

Mr Brandler also praised Mr Lewis, who turned down higher offers in order to keep the work in Port Talbot.

"Ian was amazing not going for the highest price to keep it in the community," Mr Brandler said. "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."

Mr Lewis, 55, who found the mural on his garage one week before Christmas, said the whole experience had been "life changing".

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."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Volunteers estimate more than 20,000 people have visited the Banksy

"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."

The Welsh Government offered to take on security arrangements while Mr Lewis considered his options and actor Michael Sheen contributed to some of the costs of security.

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