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18 August, 2021

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Who Owns Street Art?

Posted by worthingtons in News

A Banksy mural that appeared on the back of an amusement arcade in Folkestone has been the subject of a ground breaking legal dispute between The Creative Foundation v Dreamland Leisure Limited. The High Court handed down a judgment on 11th September 2015 which held that a tenant was not entitled to remove the Banksy mural from the wall of the leasehold property. An order was made for the Banksy mural to be returned to The Creative Foundation.

This case was one of the first to consider the ownership of street art. The “Art Buff” mural was first noticed in September 2014 during the Folkestone Triennial, a public art event organised by The Creative Foundation. The art mural became very popular in the town and attracted many visitors. However, a month after it appeared, the tenant of the property, Dreamland Leisure Limited, cut the mural from the wall, without the knowledge of The Creative Foundation or its permission. It was sent over to America where it was offered for sale.

A legal battle began between The Creative Foundation and Dreamland Leisure Limited. The Creative Foundation sought the return of “Art Buff”. The Creative Foundation obtained an injunction prohibiting Dreamland Leisure Limited from selling the mural. One of the issues to be decided in the High Court related to the ownership of the mural. It was removed by the tenant through the course of carrying out its repairing obligation. The High Court ruled that Dreamland were not entitled to remove the mural to comply with that obligation.

In his judgment, Arnold J granted summary judgment in favour of The Creative Foundation’s claim for the delivery and return of “Art Buff”. The mural will now be returned to Folkestone where it will be placed back on public display.

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