Banksy art sale helps youth club

The piece was removed by members of the cash-strapped club with a crow bar

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A youth club which was facing closure is celebrating a windfall after selling a Banksy artwork painted on a public wall.

Mobile Lovers, showing a couple embracing while checking their mobile phones, appeared on a doorway by Broad Plain Working With Young People in Bristol in April.

The piece, attached to a plank of wood and screwed to the wall on Clement Street, was removed by members of the cash-strapped club with a crow bar.

Owner Dennis Stinchcombe moved Mobile Lovers into a corridor and invited members of the public to come and view it, with donations optional.

Within days, police removed the painting and handed it to the city council, who put it on display at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.

Elusive artist Banksy later took the unusual step of writing a letter to Mr Stinchcombe, stating "as far as I'm concerned you can have it".

Mobile Lovers has now been sold for an undisclosed sum to a private collector, with all proceeds going to Broad Plain Working With Young People.

Mr Stinchcombe said: "Mobile Lovers been a fantastic gift to us, without it, the club would definitely have shut within the next 12 months or so.

"The sale of the work has given us a cushion, to assist us in carrying on with our valuable work with the young people of Bristol."

The sale was handled by the UK's leading street art expert, Mary McCarthy of MM Contemporary Arts Ltd.

"The significance of this work, and of the original placing of the work by Banksy, is immense. It's a seminal piece, pure Banksy, made even more remarkable by its intent. It's a very generous gesture, and it's noteworthy that an artist risen from the street has given back so prominently to the street," she said.

"It's an extraordinary gift, both in the financial benefit to Broad Plain, and in the reminder to us of the immeasurable value of youth clubs.

"The sale of this work will enable future Banksys and other young people, to find a safe and creative haven in Broad Plain. There are many kids, and clubs, out there, still needing support, and I hope this will prompt awareness of the good these clubs do."

The work has drawn large crowds to the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, where it has remained since April, raising more than £2,000 in donations for the club over the April Bank Holiday weekend.

It will remain in the UK following the sale.

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The Broad Plain Boys' Club, now known as Broad Plain Working With Young People, has served Bristol's young people for the past 120 years.

It was facing closure earlier this year and required £120,000 to survive - until the Banksy stencil arrived next to the club's gates.

Mr Stinchcombe, who received death threats after removing the piece from the wall, previously said offers of up to £2 million had been made for it.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: "This has been a great addition to the volumes of Bristol Banksy stories - with a magnificent outcome for Broad Plain.

"We have been delighted to take care of Mobile Lovers and enable tens of thousands of visitors to appreciate it during its time at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. It's also resulted in us raising further funds for the Club from visitor donations.

"However this chapter comes to an end. I'm delighted with the outcome and grateful to Banksy for letting it be known that he would be happyfor proceeds from a sale to benefit a Bristol club that does so much good for local young people."

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Broad Plain will be sharing a portion of the proceeds with a number of other voluntary sector youth clubs across the city of Bristol.

Young people at Broad Plain have created their own 'Thanks Banksy' wall in partnership with Young Bristol Creative Team.

This will be erected on the Broad Plain boundary fence facing the M32 into Bristol, acting as a geographical pointer to the club, and a visual thanks to Banksy himself.

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