In an episode of Inside Out broadcast tonight on the BBC, the art dealer who attempted to sell Banksy’s ‘Art Buff’ mural at auction, Robin Barton of Bankrobber Gallery, will admit he failed to properly verify who owned the wall on which the mural appeared.
Specialist art lawyers, Becky Shaw of Boodle Hatfield and Tim Maxwell of Charles Russell Speechlys, who act for the Creative Foundation, an arts charity based in Folkestone, successfully obtained a High Court injunction preventing the sale of the mural after it was removed from a building in Folkestone in 2014. At a hearing on 30 July 2015, Mr Justice Arnold held that the mural did not belong to the tenant of the property on which it was painted, but to the landlord, who assigned it to the Creative Foundation.
Robin Barton tells BBC’s Inside Out South East programme this evening that he thought the mural belonged to the property’s tenant, Dreamland Leisure Limited, linked to the Godden family, owners of Dreamland park. Months after the mural was cut out of the building Barton discovered a larger freeholder owned the property:
“I work on handshakes only, so it was a mistake on my part,” Barton says.
The mural appeared on the wall in Folkestone in September 2014. It was removed from the wall during the 2014 Folkestone Triennial art festival and sent to Miami to be sold by Barton on behalf of the Godden family. Barton expected the work to fetch up to £470,000 but it failed to sell at auction. ‘Art Buff’ was eventually returned to Folkestone to the delight of the Creative Foundation and Folkestone residents in October 2015.