Three-Story-Tall Banksy Mural Destroyed as UK Building Demolished

A former arcade building that featured a Banksy mural in Dover in the United Kingdom was demolished last week as part of the town’s redevelopment project for the area. Banksy had painted the mural, consisting of a man on a ladder chiseling off one of 12 yellow stars forming a circle on the European Union (EU) flag, on the vacant crumbling structure in May 2017 — almost a year after the UK voted to withdraw from the EU during the 2016 referendum.

Reportedly valued at £1 million (~$1.3 million), Banksy’s Brexit mural became a tourist attraction for the coastal town until it was abruptly whitewashed after four-tier scaffolding was installed against it in August 2019. Little is known about why the mural was whitewashed, but the act prompted outrage and disappointment from local residents and visitors alike.

Banksy himself commented on the vandalism of his work on Instagram, saying that he had planned to blank out the flag himself on the official Brexit day but he no longer needed to.

The mural remained painted over despite talks of restoration, and the Dover District Council (DDC) purchased the building in 2022 with the intention of demolishing it to make way for housing in the area. The demolition announcement launched campaigns for the mural’s restoration to help stimulate Dover’s tourism and economy — especially as the town’s transit and trade routes became significantly impacted by Brexit.

In detailed update statements regarding the status of demolition for the redevelopment project, the DDC said that the host building was deemed structurally dangerous and that the costs of trying to save the Banksy mural “are too high.”

Noting that it had consulted professional advice and surveys of the mural site for potential restorations and retentions, the Council wrote that the “technical and financial costs to potentially retain the wall, take it down, and re-assemble it at other locations are prohibitive,” and that any conservation attempts couldn’t be guaranteed effective due to the building’s poor condition.

Local news outlet Kent Online reported this week that parts of the covered mural have been salvaged, according to DDC leader Kevin Mills, and that there is potential for the mural to be replicated at a different site down the line.

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