LONDON • A mural by elusive British street artist Banksy, depicting a child enjoying falling snow that is, in fact, pollution from a burning bin, has been sold for more than £100,000 (S$174,000) to a British art dealer.
From one side, the Season's Greetings mural on a concrete block garage in Wales shows a small boy with his tongue out to catch snow that, when viewed from another side, turns out to be ash from an industrial bin.
Mr John Brandler of Brandler Galleries said: "I bought it and it cost me a six-figure sum.
"I am lending it to Port Talbot for a minimum of two or three years. I want to use it as a centre for an art hub that would bring internationally famous artists to Port Talbot."
The mural appeared last month in the town on the edge of Swansea Bay, home to one of the biggest steelworks in the world.
The work is Banksy's first in Wales and is taken by some to be a comment on Port Talbot's industrial heritage and pollution linked to its steel plant.
Mr Brandler, 63, said the entire mural - on the corner of a garage - had to be moved in one piece. He declined to give a specific price for the piece.
When asked how he could afford such luxuries, he said: "I am an art dealer. I own several Banksies. I also own (John) Constable, (Thomas) Gainsborough, (Joseph Mallord William) Turner. I have (urban artist) Pure Evil. I have all sorts of art."
"My hobby is my business. The last time I went to work was when I was 18," Mr Brandler said.
Banksy, who keeps his real name private, has become the most famous street artist in the world by poking fun at the excesses of modern capitalism and lampooning hollow icons, slogans and opinions.
Previous works include Mobile Lovers, which shows an embrace between lovers who stare over each other's shoulders at their mobile phones, and an abrupt warning near Canary Wharf in London that reads: "Sorry. The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock."
Artistic jaws dropped last October after Banksy's audacious prank involving the shredding of his artwork, Girl With Balloon, now called Love Is In The Bin, moments after it fetched £1,042,000 - a joint record for the maverick, who had hidden a shredder in the frame.
Experts said the stunt only added to the value of the work.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE