Essex art dealer buys Port Talbot Banksy piece
18 January 2019, 11:05 | Updated: 18 January 2019, 11:07
A Banksy artwork painted on the side of a steelworker's garage has been sold to an art dealer from Essex for a "six-figure sum".
John Brandler, 63, who owns Brandler Galleries, said he had agreed the mural could be kept in its current location in Port Talbot, South Wales, for a minimum of two years.
The artwork, which shows a child dressed for snow playing in the falling ash and smoke from a skip fire, is Banksy's first to appear in Wales and is believed to be a comment on pollution linked to its steel plant.
Steelworker Ian Lewis, 55, said it was like "Christmas had come early" after the work appeared on the side of his garage in the Taibach area on December 18, but later confessed he was "struggling" to manage with the attention.
New owner Mr Brandler said he already owned several Banksy pieces, and suggested putting "five or six" more of the artist's works on public display in the Welsh town to help tourism.
Mr Brandler, from Brentwood, said: "I'm so chuffed to have it, you have no idea.
"This isn't the most valuable Banksy I own but it's certainly the one I'm most proud of. Because it's so brilliant. It has an instant message, and it's punchy. It's not just a girl holding a balloon or a bunch of flowers or something. This is a really strong social message.
"Ian was getting offers from people who wanted to take it away and not work with the town.
"But I want to make Port Talbot a go-to place rather than a go-from place.
"Within a short time I'm thinking of bringing five or six more Banksys to Port Talbot. Let's do an exhibition.
"If we all work together I think we will get tonnes of people coming to Port Talbot."
The art dealer said he had given a "written guarantee" the artwork would stay in Port Talbot "for a minimum of two to three years", and added: "If it works, it can stay longer. If it doesn't work then I'll move it to a different industrial city."
Mr Brandler said he was in Cardiff on Friday morning to meet with representatives from the Welsh Assembly today to see "what happens next".
Hollywood actor Michael Sheen has been contributing towards security costs to protect the artwork in his hometown, which included a donation to a protective plastic screen currently covering the artwork.