Imagine one day you wake up and a famous artist has installed a mural on the side of your home—shooting up its value, but also leaving you with many responsibilities you did not anticipate.
That was the reality for one couple in the United Kingdom. Homeowners Garry and Gokean Coutts discovered one morning in August 2021 that Banksy had stenciled a near 20-foot-tall seagull on the side of their residence in Lowestoft, Suffolk. They told The Daily Mail that it has created a “living nightmare.”
Council officials informed them that they needed to spend £40,000 (about $49,500) to maintain the work by the mysterious artist. Then, they discovered they would also have to protect it from burglars.
“I have had to hire a night watchman to look after it after someone stole part of it and tried to sell it on Facebook. Another time vandals were caught with a dozen pots of white paint and were apparently going to paint over it,” Garry Coutts told the paper.
The artwork was removed in April after the couple hired a firm and council officials approved closing the road for the task, The Daily Mail reported. The company reinforced the wall with 12 layers of resin and five tons of steel before a 40-foot crane removed the work in one piece. The couple hopes to sell the artwork and replace it with some form of replica. The Times reported that the project altogether is likely to cost £200,000 (about $247,000). But the removed wall is likely worth a few million dollars.
“At first it was obviously incredible but as things have gone on it has become extremely stressful. I’m not sure Banksy realizes the unintended consequences on homeowners. If we could turn back the clock, we would,” Coutts said.
The mural did have a positive local impact. A spokesman for Lowestoft Town Council told the paper: “The artwork has been a draw to tourists and a talking point for Lowestoft on the national stage.”
Back in 2021 the artist claimed responsibility for the work in a three-minute video titled “A Great British Spraycation” in which he created artworks in English seaside towns.