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The Banksy piece being sold by Bhupen Raja, pictured with his wife, Hena

Mural goes on market, but brings an insurance headache

The Brighton mural

Published: August 25, 2011

THE owner of a Camden Town house marked by a Banksy mural says he wants to sell the artwork without disposing of the property.

Bhupen Raja will listen to offers of about £4,000 for the stencil of a boy blowing ­bubbles spelling out the name of infamous London tagger Tox.

The potential sale bears similarities to the disposal of a Banksy artwork on the side of a Brighton pub. It was sold after an art restoration company used chemicals to transfer the piece onto canvas.

The move irked the art world as the picture of two policemen clinched and kissing was taken from the Prince Albert pub to an auction in the United States with hopes of raising up to a £1million.

To protect the work on the side of his ­property in Jeffrey’s Street, Mr Raja has installed a Perspex screen and set up CCTV to deter vandals.

Banksy pieces have been ruined across London, with some graffiti artists unhappy at the preferential treatment and protection they believe they are given by authorities. His picture of a maid on a wall in Chalk Farm Road was repeatedly blotted out by rivals before restoration attempts were finally abandoned.

The world-renowned artist has suggested in the past that renegade changes and adaptations to his work were all part of the culture of street art.

Mr Raja told the New Journal that his house, which he lets out privately, is photographed every day by Banksy admirers. The mural, which appeared in June, makes reference to the jailing of Tox, a tagger-style street artist known for his prolific work on London’s transport network.

“I don’t want to sell the house because I like my tenants and that would be too much of a headache,” said 57-year-old Mr Raja.

“But I was hoping to sell the Banksy for about £3,000-£4,000 and I would even throw in a bottle of champagne for whoever buys it. The problem is no one’s buying it. Maybe I haven’t publicised it enough. I haven’t been on eBay or the internet.

“It’s a fair price because it cost me that much just to put up CCTV to keep an eye on it, in case of vandals, and for the protective Perspex placed on top of it.”

Mr Raja said he had been turned down for cover by a series of insurance companies.

“I checked out pretty much all the insurance companies, even a specialist one with Lloyds Bank, but they say they won’t, because it’s just out there in the street with no real security,” he said.

“We called up Christie’s and Sotheby’s because it is a work of art by a world-famous artist,” he said.

“But they both told me selling a Banksy on a wall is too much hassle, and they won’t even deal with it. It’s ironic really, because it’s as famous as any work in a gallery. Dozens of people come to photograph it every day and just to take a look at it. They come from across London, even tourists from other countries.

“I appreciate art. I will look after it, but I know a lot of people are far more into it than I am, so I would be pleased to sell it to an art lover for the right price.”

Mr Raja suggested it could even be the perfect spot for advertising. “People try and stick advertising on the Perspex regularly because so many people come to look at it, so I suppose there’s that too,” he said.

“I don’t know if you’d be able to make money from it. I haven’t tried it, but it’s a thought. I’m not sure where a person would stand legally. That would be the first thing to find out, but if it is legal, that’s another bonus for anyone who wants to buy it. That’s a whole other stream of revenue.”


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