Bristol youth charity insists Banksy art piece was intended as a gift

The Broad Plain & Riverside Youth Project removed the piece from a wall but it has now has been moved to a museum while ownership is determined

Mobile Lovers by Banksy
Mobile Lovers by Banksy

A work by the street artist Banksy removed from a wall in Bristol by a local charity in the hope of auctioning it to raise funds has been moved to a city museum while its ownership is determined.

Mobile Lovers appeared on a street near the Broad Plain & Riverside Youth Project on Sunday. After being removed on Tuesday by a tradesman on behalf of the club and stored temporarily in the centre, it was handed over to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery yesterday.

Dennis Stinchcombe, centre director of the youth club, told Third Sector that he believed the work was intended as a gift to the club, despite being completed on a piece of wood attached to the wall of a local council-owned depot.

He said he thought this. "First, because it is within 10 feet of our front door, and there's no other community project or other organisation set up anywhere nearby," he said. "Second, the M32 runs alongside it, so you would find it difficult to believe Banksy put it there with the idea of it being a focal point.

"A number of people who know Banksy's work well also said to me that it must be for us, because Banksy wouldn't have put his work on a piece of screwed-on wood unless he wanted it to be taken away."

Stinchcombe said he had the piece removed and temporarily stored in the youth centre for fear of it being vandalised or stolen.

He said he had received a telephone call from London yesterday representing an overseas bidder willing to pay £1m for the work. He also received two death threats, he said, which he had reported to the police. "That all starts to make it a bit scary to have it here," he said.

Stinchcombe said he had been cooperating with the council and police and was keen for the work's future to be determined. "People have been saying in the press there's a big row, but there's no argument at all, that's all just hype. I just hope that if the council get any money for it, they can give some of it to us."

The piece is not yet on display publicly at the museum, a member of museum staff told Third Sector – said she said she was not sure when it would be displayed.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Constabulary said that no criminal investigation into the matter had been launched.

A public relations firm working for Banksy did not respond to questions from Third Sector about whether the piece was intended for the youth club.

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