WORK by street-artist Banksy is set to stay where it was first created in Cheltenham after one businessman offered a significant amount of cash for the piece.
Local businessman Hekmat Kaveh has offered an unknown sum of money to keep the artwork in Cheltenham and in its original condition.
The well-publicised piece of artwork, which has won popular appeal for poking fun at the UKs Cheltenham-based government spy centre, GCHQ, is set to stay in the town once the details of the cash deal are agreed with the owner of the Hewlett Road property, where the artwork is based.
The Save the Banksy Group led by Cheltenham businesswoman Angela de Souza, had been appealing for funds to preserve the depiction of three shady-looking men with surveillance equipment surrounding a telephone box and supporting a satellite dish, when Mr Kaveh stepped in. The timing has been critical because today was due to be the expiry date of the temporary stop notice issued by Cheltenham Borough Council.
"Having spoken to many people over the last few weeks, and reading many comments on social media, I have concluded that there is a very strong feeling about this work," said Mr Kaveh.
"It seems that Cheltenham generally is in support of, not only retaining the Banksy in the town, but in its current location, where it was clearly intended to be."
The move to provide the funding is subject only to receiving support from a number of public and other agencies, such as planning, listed building, highways, and Cheltenham Borough Council. It's already been revealed that most are in support of retaining the wall painting in its location.
Mr Kaveh has long felt that with Cheltenham's long-established links to GCHQ, a ‘Spy Museum' should be set up in the town.
"That project is still of great importance to me and I hope it is still a possibility. Whether this is in the property immediately behind the Banksy painting, or in another location, will require considerable thought, discussion and consultation with many different bodies, as well as the public," he added.
"I do not feel that I am ready to make any particular commitments in that respect, other than giving my wholehearted support for the scheme to protect Banksy's artwork."
Angela de Souza said: "I am sure the whole town extend their gratitude to Mr Kaveh for stepping in like this to prevent the loss of this artwork, which allows more time for discussions and hopefully a firm agreement between all parties concerned. For sure it's great news for the people of Cheltenham."