One of Banksy’s latest murals, dubbed; “Spy Booth” has been covered with scaffolding amid claims it too will fall to the hands of money-grabbing auction houses.
London-based firm Q Scaffolding last night put hoardings over the painting which depicts comic book-style spies listening in on a phone box near GCHQ in Cheltenham.
The company today denied it had been called in to remove the mural, which appeared overnight in April, saying the scaffolding was to allow the house owner to re-render the property.
“Spy Booth”, depicting men “snooping” on a telephone box, appeared on a private house in Hewlett Road in April.
Police were called in the early hours today after one worried local parked a Ford Transit alongside the wall to prevent the work from continuing.
Resident Darren Power said:
I think the Banksy will be removed. Why would they get a scaffolding company up from London to do it? I still think it will end up in an art gallery sooner or later. It’ll be a shame if it does because everyone here loves it.
Pub worker Tanya Taylor, said:
It is such a lovely piece of art. Since it has been there it has been good for business. We’re being told it’s not going anywhere but then some people are still worried. I really hope it stays.
The move comes a month after Banksy confirmed the painting was his handiwork.
Now John Joyce, of Q, has said the homeowner was paid for the work, which will be auctioned and he expected could fetch up to £1million.
Mr Joyce said part of the work would be removed “on Friday”, and part of it “on Sunday or Monday”, before being taken to London for the sale on 4 July.
He explained the landlord of the property had sold the piece for an undisclosed amount.
We are not doing anything illegal. We are preserving Banksy’s legacy.
He added that by removing the artwork it would protect it and “stop it being vandalised”.
Earlier, Cheltenham Borough Council said it believed the owner of the house had arranged for scaffolding to be erected in order to repair rendering on the wall.
People living nearby guarded the site overnight to ensure the work was not removed.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said there was an increased presence of officers in the area because of “social tension” that has developed among residents who do not want to see it removed.
At the beginning of June, Banksy admitted painting it – three miles away from the government listening post, GCHQ.
Since then “Spy Booth” has attracted hordes of visitors.