I had Banksy appear on my garage… thousands flocked to see it but I had to pay

A MAN who found a Banksy drawn on his home had to hire private security after thousands flocked to see it – and tried to steal it. 

Ian Lewis said he only found out when recognising his own garage in pictures that fans of the secret artist had posted online.

Ian said that the mural 'turned political' when locals felt it was an insult to the town
Ian said that the mural ‘turned political’ when locals felt it was an insult to the townCredit: Wales News Service

The 60-year-old retiree was barraged by 300 people and a BBC reporter when the image was discovered – a number that multiplied in the days that followed.

The image shows a young boy looking up at the sky with his mouth opened as – what looks like – snowflakes land on him.

But when turning the corner, the image continues and shows it’s in fact ash falling on the boy from a fire lit behind him – which was supposedly a satirical nod to harmful industrial pollution.

Port Talbot has been home to a steelworks for over a century, and in its history employed thousands of locals – making it the largest in Europe and the centerpiece of Britain’s industrial crown.

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It’s a hard-working steel town, and a lot of people see it as an insult

Ian Lewis

Speaking the the Telegraph, he said: “I saw the picture of it and I thought, ‘Gosh, that looks like my garage.’”

“Within a day or two, there were 300 people at a time there and a reporter from BBC News.”

Once it was proved to be a real Banksy – in an Instagram video posted by the secretive artist viewed 5.5 million times – the 300 spectators turned into 2,000 and things took a nasty turn.

Ian said that it quickly “turned political” as the area is a “hard-working steel town” so locals saw it as an insult. 

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The former steelworker from Port Talbot, Wales, said he was attacked in his local boozer, and “crucified” on social media for a painting he had no part in.

He claimed the criticism could just be “jealousy” due to his newfound fame.

He also claimed that his sister had a drink “thrown” over her in the town center, while others tried to steal the painting from his home.

Shortly after the painting was drawn two people turned up at his house with hammers and attempted to chisel the priceless piece off his garage wall, so he had to spend thousands on private security to keep it safe.

New ‘Banksy’ appears in middle of London street – with fans convinced it’s by famous artist

But luckily he didn’t have to face the plight alone after Hollywood star Michael Sheen – who grew up in the town – arranged legal advice for him.

In the end Ian made the tough decision to sell the piece – for a six-figure sum – to collector John Brandler, who initially wanted to display it in the town until council officials blocked the move.

Council heads said they had no interest in displaying it because the secretive scribbler isn’t Welsh.

They also said the costs of removal, installation, insurance and fees to the owner were too great and so the wall is now on its way to an exhibition in Venice.

How mysterious street artist Banksy’s identity could soon be revealed

To this day the artist has never been unmasked but widely reported conspiracy theories have put a name to the face more than a couple of times – although each one has been denied by those who were accused

Banksy first rose to fame after spray-painting trains and walls in his home city of Bristol during the early 1990s.

Street art and graffiti can be considered criminal damage, so initially it is thought the artist chose to be anonymous to avoid a run-in with the law.

Murals have popped up all over the country over the years, spotted around the south of England, including LondonBrighton and Bristol – but also in prominent international locations.

HHis often political pieces appear in public places before he claims them on his social media.

Most people can tell it’s the secret artist’s work due to his unique street-art style which includes striking images that are sometimes combined with slogans.

He has been mooted as a litter of different people since his career began in the 1990s.

In 2008 reports suggested he could be Bristol-born artist Robin Gunningham.

Other reports claimed he was graffiti artist and musician Robert del Naja, who was a member of Bristol arts collective The Wild Bunch – the same city Banksy grew up in.

And, a wild conspiracy on the internet forced Art Attack presenter Neil Buchanan to deny that he was the secret scribbler in 2020.

The graffiti artist – whose work has gained him worldwide fame – was the subject of legal action accusing him of defamation.

And he was forced to defend himself and submit legal documents to the High Court after graffiti pioneer Andrew Gallagher, 56, filed the lawsuit.

But in a surprising move, Banksy filed defence documents at the High Court instead of conceding the lawsuit to avoid revealing his true identity.

It comes after two latest pieces of the artist’s precious art have been put on the market.

The first piece – a giant seagull eating chips from a skip – was drawn on the end of a house in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 2021.

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And the second piece, titled Happy Choppers – a fleet of Apache helicopters with pink bows – was discovered in 2006, in Shoreditch, east London.

The piece was almost lost forever when the owner of the offices it was drawn on painted over it – but was discovered by its buyer when they saw it in a Banksy book and recognised a part of it through the office owner’s paint job.

Council heads said they had no interest in displaying it because the secretive scribbler isn't welsh
Council heads said they had no interest in displaying it because the secretive scribbler isn’t welshCredit: PA:Press Association

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