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Art Buff, Folkestone's Banksy is coming home after Creative Foundation wins High Court battle in London

By Matt Leclere

Folkestone's Banksy artwork is coming home.

The Creative Foundation today won a legal battle at the High Court in London.

A judge ruled in favour of the charity - which runs the town's Creative Quarter and spearheading its regeneration - at a hearing this morning paving the way for Art Buff to return to the town.

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Art Buff on the wall in Payers Park before it was removed. Picture Wayne McCabe

Art Buff on the wall in Payers Park before it was removed. Picture: Wayne McCabe

The Foundation disputed the ownership of the painting after it was removed from the amusement arcade in Payers Park.

It emerged overnight during the town's Triennial arts festival last September.

But Mr Justice Arnold ruled in favour of the Creative Foundation.

He handed down his ruling today that once it had been cut out of the building it belonged to the landlord of the building and not Dreamland Leisure, a company owned by the Godden family, who are the tenants of the building.

A spokesman for the Foundation confirmed to Kent Online the case had been won.

 

But the Godden family are not happy with the ruling and have issued a lengthy statement saying they offered to sell the piece to the Creative Foundation for the same price as the expensive legal battle. 

The statement said: "We as a family had made clear our intentions from early on and any money received from the sale of Art Buff would have gone to expanding the Pilgrims Hopice service in Folkestone and opening further Pilgrims Centre’s in the Shepway Area. 

"We hope Art Buff will be enjoyed by the people of Folkestone in its new home, but please spare a thought for how many lives could have been improved by the same money spent by one person on a piece of graffiti.

"The sooner Folkestone realises that one philanthropic billionaire will not change a town they will be better for it." 

However, the Creative Foundation has denied the legal battle has been costly and insists it has not cost them a penny.

Thousands flocked to see the piece before it was removed and put into storage by the Godden family which owns the building. Picture Freddie Lee Thompson

Thousands flocked to see the piece before it was removed and put into storage by the Godden family which owns the building. Picture: Freddie Lee Thompson

Residents were outraged when Dreamland Leisure cut out the the piece to sell it at auction in the USA.

The piece however failed to sell after being valued at around £500,000 by the owners and agents trying to sell the piece.

Earlier this year, the Creative Foundation secured an injunction through the courts preventing the piece from being sold on.

Banksy listed the piece on his website shortly after the painting appeared calling it Art Buff adding the caption: "Part of the Triennial. Sort of."

Alastair Upton, chief executive of the Creative Foundation, said: "We are delighted with the outcome of the legal proceedings.

"The Banksy will be coming back to Folkestone, where it will be looked after and shown to the public along with the Folkestone Artworks, a collection of the best of the exhibited works from each Folkestone Triennial.

"It will be enjoyed both by people of the town and visitors to it. Many local people had asked us to do our best to ensure that the work returned to Folkestone and we worked hard towards this. It should have never been removed.

"I look forward to the day, which we will be announcing soon, when we will be welcoming “Art Buff” back to its rightful home.”

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