Artist claims he is behind ‘Banksy’ piece which sold for £250k

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The artist who claims to have created the ‘Never liked this Banksy’ graffiti piece branded the decision to cut it out the wall and sell it for £250,000 as “appalling”.

Silent Bill, an anonymous local street artist believed to be from the Wirral, told the ECHO today how he did the piece as a tongue in cheek homage to Banksy. The piece, which depicts a rat with a paintbrush next to the words ‘never liked this Banksy’ once sat beneath the Banksy Love Plane on the wall of Norwich House on Rumford Street in Liverpool city centre.

It was removed, along with the Love Plane in 2016, and was due to feature in the failed Berry House “street art gallery”. The piece has now been sold at auction and was featured on new Channel 4 series The Greatest Auction hosted by AJ Odudu.

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The piece was sold at auction for £250,000 to collector Robin Barton who purports to be a specialist in Banksy’s work. An anonymous seller told Mr Barton that even after the artwork was examined there was no clear answer as to whether the piece was actually a Banksy.

Mr Barton said he was playing a “cat and mouse game” with Banksy in finding his artworks, buying them and then selling them. He added he was after the piece for his collection.

But today Silent Bill, who founded The Secret Society of Super Villain Artists, said: “The piece was done in 2013/14 as a tongue in cheek homage to Banksy in reference to his earlier ‘Never liked the Beatles’ piece. It’s known within circles in the street art scene that the ‘Never liked this Banksy’ piece is by me.

“When the Banksy pieces were initially cut from the wall it was proposed they were to be preserved in Liverpool’s very own street art museum. Naturally this never occurred and they ended in the hands of Sincura, a concierge and lifestyle service. The pieces were a gift from Banksy to the people of Liverpool and were never intended to be cut out and become rich people’s trophies.”

On The Greatest Auction critics debated if the piece was a genuine Banksy, with one noting the letters didn’t “seem in the same style that he (Banksy) normally does”. Another added he was not “a thousand per cent” if it was a Banksy or not, but some experts believed it was.

Mr Barton and a millionaire art collector phoning in from Dubai battled it out in a tense bidding war. The starting bid was £35,000 which continued until the Dubai buyer pulled out at £250,000.

Mr Barton told the programme: “I got what I wanted. That was my limit… when it got up to the 200, I thought maybe I got this wrong, maybe they are hungrier than I am. I wouldn’t have gone a penny over that so I got it and I’m taking it home.”

Silent Bill told the ECHO he finds it “most appalling” that the artwork sold for that amount of money when “there are record numbers of people sleeping on the streets and struggling financially”.

He added: “The seller should be giving the money away to house the homeless and the buyer should be over the moon that they own a piece by me. And just for the record, I always liked this Banksy.”

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