A Banksy artwork left at a model village in Norfolk is to go on display at a museum for four weeks before it is auctioned off in January and replaced by a replica.
Visitors will have just one month to see the miniature Banksy building at an urban art exhibition at Peterborough Museum in Cambridgeshire before it goes under the hammer at the end of January.
The small stable was added to Merrivale Model Village in Great Yarmouth during the summer and owners Frank and Frances Newsome have now decided to auction it over fears the original could be stolen.
The couple, who have spent hundreds on extra security for the miniature model, hope the sale will secure the future of their tourist attraction, which lost money during the pandemic.
“The Banksy has been a life-saver for us as we’ve had to close so much over the last couple of years due to the pandemic,” said Frances, who has run the model village since 2017. “We hope the sale will safeguard the future of the village.”
The tiny thatched stable, which features a rodent and the words ‘Go Big Or Go Home” scrawled on the side, appeared in the model village on August 6.
Frank and Frances didn’t notice the model until two days later when it was pointed out to them by a visitor.
It was then verified as a Banksy by the anonymous artist, who was seen working on eight pieces across Suffolk and Norfolk in a video entitled ‘A Great British Spraycation’ which was uploaded to his Instagram account.
Frances said: “A visitor spotted the stable and thought it was a Banksy imitation, but when he watched the news that night he saw there were lots of Banksy’s popping up around the county so he came back to tell us.
“We hadn’t even noticed the model until then as it fitted in so perfectly with the rest of the village.
“When we thought back, we realised how meticulously Banksy had planned it. We believe he was part of a group who arrived with the model in a large cool box.
“A woman in the group distracted our chief model maker by talking about her interest in model making, then there was a second diversion when a man put up a drone and refused to stop flying it.”
She said once they knew the model was a real Banksy, they built a Perspex box around it and employed extra security to guard it during the summer, but it became very expensive.
“We had to pay to take it off site every night, which was becoming very expensive, so we made the difficult decision to auction it,” added Frances.
The couple have commissioned a replica of the stable, which is being built by a third-year student at Arts University Bournemouth and will be on show at the model village from next Easter.
The original model will be on display at Urban at Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery from December 11.
Pat Carrington, CEO of City Culture Peterborough, which runs Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery, said: “This is a great opportunity for visitors to see this original piece of Banksy art before it gets sold at auction and goes into private ownership. It may not be seen in public again once sold if it goes to a private collector.
“The cottage is one of 18 unique and original Banksy pieces to be featured in our Urban exhibition, including some new pieces and works signed by Banksy.”