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Heavy Weaponry artwork said to be by Banksy is to be sold at auction at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone

Art collectors are being invited to take a punt on a piece which may - or may not - be the work of iconic street artist Banksy.

The stencil-on-concrete creation shows a version of the artist's Heavy Weaponry design, an elephant with a bomb strapped to its back, and it will go under the hammer in Folkestone on Saturday.

Cllr Jackie Meade with the 'Banksy'
Cllr Jackie Meade with the 'Banksy'

However, buyers should be aware that at this stage the provenance of the work has not yet been certified as a Banksy by the Pest Control organisation which authenticates his artwork.

An authenticated version of Heavy Weaponry, spray painted onto canvas, was previously sold by Sotheby's auction house for £315,000.

The 'Banksy' going on sale in Folkestone this weekend belongs to the town's former Mayor, Cllr Jackie Meade, who is contributing it to a wider auction in aid of three chosen charities.

"I was given the 'Banksy' for my 50th birthday by my partner who bought it in London in 2010," she said ahead of the sale.

"It was said to have come from Roberta Street in East London.

"I had it in my hallway for several years as, being a large slab of concrete, was too heavy to hang.

"After breaking my toes on it several times, we put it into storage and on becoming mayor we decided instead of it being hidden away we could use it to raise funds for the charities."

Cllr Meade says she has submitted the work to Pest Control for verification, but as yet she has not received confirmation one way or the other.

The artist's most expensive work to date, Love is in the Bin, sold for £18.5 million.

It captured global attention as supposedly the first piece of art in history to have been created live during an auction, when his previous work Girl with Balloon was shredded seconds after being sold.

Banksy's Art Buff on the Old High Street
Banksy's Art Buff on the Old High Street

Asked about the likelihood the work is the real deal, Cllr Meade said: "We know several people who are supposedly experts on Banksy, they've seen it, they think it's real.

"But of course we're having to sell it as a 'Banksy, is it or isn't it?' because I haven't got that final certification, but even as a piece of artwork to talk about, it's a brilliant piece, so we're hoping to raise some good money."

In all 36 lots will be auctioned at the sale at the Leas Cliff Hall on Saturday, with proceeds going to The Rainbow Centre, FYP Youth Charity and Living Words.

The auction had been scheduled for the spring of 2020, but it has been delayed for two years by the pandemic.

Folkestone is home to one piece which is certainly the work of the artist. Banksy's Art Buff - which shows a woman wearing headphones peering over an empty plinth - is installed in the Old High Street for all to see.

And down the road in Dover, an EU flag appeared on a building in Townwall Street in 2019 and disappeared again soon after.

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