Banksy's 'Art Buff' returns to Folkestone after legal battle

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw

After a long legal battle, artwork by Banksy has returned to the streets of Folkestone.

Banksy's 'Art Buff' appeared during the Folkestone Triennial six years ago this month. 

The world's most famous graffiti artist had confirmed the piece was his with a note on his website saying: "Part of Folkestone Triennial. Kind of."

However by the end of 2014, it was controversially removed and shipped to America.

What followed was a protracted legal battle to get it back. 

Alastair Upton, Chief Executive, Creative Folkestone says: "I think there was a sense of injustice because this was painted for the town. And we wanted to have it back in the town. We managed to get an injunction, they couldn't sell it, and we got it trapped in America. And then we went to court, and over a long period of time we had a battle, and we won. And the judge said it was ours, and we brought it back."

It was removed and shipped to America at the end of 2014. Credit: ITV News Meridian

While the artist's identity remains cloaked in mystery, the local council hopes the public nature of this installation will pull in the visitors. 

Cllr David Wimble, Folkestone & Hythe District Council, says: "His artwork is renowned worldwide so having an original Banksy in Folkestone has got to be great for the economy."

Meanwhile 10 vacant plinths are being placed in Folkestone's public places this weekend - for a DIY exhibition of local people's work. 

Local business owners think it's all a sign the town's heading in the right direction.

While 'Art Buff' may be a snapshot from a pre-Covid world, it is hoped it will help cement this town's artistic credentials for years to come.