by Milo Sumner in New Art on Monday 28 July 2014

Banksy, the master of hiding your identity while simultaneously maintaining global fame, has caught the media spotlight once again. Several more of the elusive street artists works have cropped up around The UK, one of which in particular has caused quite a stir.

Created in mid-April, Spy-Booth is yet another comment piece; displaying stereotypical 1950′s ‘spies’ in trench coats and dark glasses surrounding a telephone box with monitoring equipment. It is made even more topical by the fact that it’s in Cheltenham, only down the road from the British Intelligence Headquarters.

Spy-Booth remained unclaimed by Banksy until June however, upon which the artist finally took to his website to confirm his authorship. Since then the owner of the building against which the mural is painted has been attempting to sell the artwork (worth an estimated $1.7million), even putting up scaffolding in preparation to remove it much to the consternation of local art-lovers.

Local campaigner Phil Jones told the BBC that the British government were the actual owners of the Banksy piece: ‘It was a house previously acquired circa 1960, which was knocked down for road improvements, the government should acknowledge that they own it and that it’s in the public realm for the benefit of the people of Cheltenham’.

Luckily the local council has now ruled that the landlord may not tamper with the wall as the building is grade II listed, meaning that it is now a permanent part of British heritage.

This is not the first time that individuals have attempted to lay claim to works intended for the public. Around the same time that Spy-Booth was created Banksy spoke out about Mobile-Lovers, a piece painted in a doorway of a youth club in Bristol. Read the full story here.

Via Art Net