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Folkestone Banksy, Art Buff, removed from Payers Park and sold amid protests

The man overseeing the sale of the Folkestone Banksy has said proceeds are going to a cancer charity.

Angry protests broke out after Folkestone's Banksy was removed yesterday.

Workmen were at the site all day Saturday with drilling heard inside the building and test holes on the outside of the protective perspex put in place by Shepway District Council.

But at 4.45pm five police cars were at the scene after reports that some of the town's artists were trying to rip the scaffolding down in protest.

Workmen have been at the site all day. Picture: Kay McLoughlin
Workmen have been at the site all day. Picture: Kay McLoughlin

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At 8pm it was confirmed that the artwork had finally been removed.

Proceeds from the sale are set to be donated to the cancer charity set up in aid of Jimmy Godden whose family owns the building.

The hole where the Banksy used to be. Picture courtesy of @KayMcLoughlin
The hole where the Banksy used to be. Picture courtesy of @KayMcLoughlin

One of the builders had earlier told KentOnline that the work was to turn the piece around to face the inside of the building.

But it emerged that was a cover-up and that the work was being removed.

Alastair Upton, the chief executive of the Creative Foundation, which runs the Folkestone Triennial, confirmed that earlier remark was a lie and he'd been told by Robin Barton, the man overseeing its removal, that it was being taken out.

Mr Barton will now oversee the sale and will keep the piece at his gallery called Bankrobber in London.

"It's being sold because the Goddens are heartily fed up with keeping it safe. And they've decided they want rid of it.

Police talk to art dealer Robin Barton (centre) who was overseeing the removal. Picture: Paul Amos
Police talk to art dealer Robin Barton (centre) who was overseeing the removal. Picture: Paul Amos

"Being magnanimous, they don't really care [about what the people of Folkestone think]," he told Academy FM.

He added: "Rochelle Godden's husband, Jimmy Godden, died of cancer a few years ago and she's going to put any funds from it to her cancer trust."

Crowds began to swarm around the piece this evening as news broke out about the removal. 

But no arrests were made.

A police spokesman said: "Police attended the Banksy artwork in Folkestone to prevent any breaches of the peace whilst work was carried out in the area. No arrests have been made."

Scaffolding around the outside of the Banksy. Picture: James Gillen
Scaffolding around the outside of the Banksy. Picture: James Gillen

The anonymous artist revealed it was his contribution to the Folkestone Triennial which ends tomorrow after two months.

Drilling was heard coming from inside the Palace Amusements building earlier this morning.

The piece - called Art Buff - is on the back of the amusement arcade in Rendezvous Street which faces Payers Park in the town centre which underwent a £1.5m revamp ahead of the Triennial.

The manager of the arcade, whose name is Colin, said this morning: "I don't know anything about it. They haven't told me anything."

Police at the scene today. Photo courtesy of @kent_999s
Police at the scene today. Photo courtesy of @kent_999s

Hundreds of people have visited the piece for selfies and pictures with thousands taking to social media to share the news when it was confirmed while the news also hit national and international headlines.

The artwork is estimated to be worth more than £300,000 and a similar operation was carried out on Banksy's Kissing Coppers piece on a pub wall in Brighton which sold at auction in Miami earlier this year for £345,000.

Protests at the scene of the Banksy. Picture courtesy of @bladeofgrassuk
Protests at the scene of the Banksy. Picture courtesy of @bladeofgrassuk

The artwork has not been without incident and has been vandalised twice since it went up.

The district council recently said maintenance would pass on solely to the owners of the building, Dreamland Amusements.

Sam Millen, an artist and designer who lives in the town, captured a video of the work going on this morning.

He said: "A friend who runs a shop in The Old High Street (around the corner) said she saw some work men looking at the wall.

"I went up there and heard the drilling coming from the inside.

"I noticed a couple of drill holes and looked like they are taking it out.

"It's a huge chunk of money though so I wouldn't blame them.

"It's on their property but it's a bit of a shame.

"And it's the final weekend of the Triennial so if it comes out today anyone coming down will miss it."

Tonight's removal sparked a huge response on social media, with a selection of Tweets below.

Video courtesy of Sam Millen via YouTube

Will you be disappointed to see the Banksy go? Join the comments below.

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