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Issue:- 13 March 2014

Local Charities will Benefit from the Sale of Banky's Liverpool Rat

THE Liverpool Rat is the largest work ever created in Britain by world renowned street artist Banksy. Controversy and rumour have surrounded the piece since it was removed from its original location last year, but the future preservation of Liverpool's Banksy is now assured. The Rat will go to auction in April and local children's charities stand to benefit from its sale.

Painted onto the derelict Whitehouse pub, on the corner of Berry Street and Duke Street, as part of the 2004 Liverpool Biennial Festival, the enormous piece of street art sat slowly eroding for years. Large parts of it peeled off with the plaster, or vanished on rotted wood until this valuable creation, by the Bristol born artist, was in danger of becoming a shadow of its former self.

Waterloo based Ascot Property Group acquired the Grade II listed building back in 2011, with a view to revamping and re-purposing the prime location. After seeking advice it became clear that the artwork simply could not remain in situ. The Liverpool Rat was deteriorating rapidly, the building was becoming unsafe and the work of art deserved to be saved. With the support of the City Council, in 2013 Ascot enlisted experts to undertake the painstaking process of removing and rebuilding the iconic piece. As a result it can now be sold at auction, enabling a portion of the profits to directly benefit Liverpool charities.

The piece will be displayed as part of Stealing Banksy? an exhibition and auction due to take place over 4 days between 24 April and 27 April 2014. Stealing Banksy? will see the Liverpool Rat displayed alongside 6 other works by the artist, sourced and presented by London concierge service, The Sincura Group. The exhibition represents the most expensive Banksy collection ever assembled under one roof.

A number of Liverpool causes will benefit from the funds generated by the sale, including Rowan Park, a school for children with severe learning difficulties, based in Litherland.

June King, Business Manager at Rowan Park School said:- "We are thrilled that Ascot Property Group has thought of Rowan Park School when choosing a charity. We are in the process of building the RAP, a community adventure play park for children with disabilities within the Sefton area. It is a massive undertaking and the first project of its kind in the area; with sandpits, water pumps, tunnels, zip-wires and all kind of other activities, all of which will be accessible to children with disabilities and their families. We need to raise £150,000 just to open up the park and we are so grateful for any donations that we receive. We are close to hitting our target but paying for upkeep, new equipment and 24 hour CCTV will mean continuous fundraising, so the money donated by Ascot will be put to very good use."

Stuart Howard of Ascot Property Group said:- "If Banksy's Liverpool Rat could feasibly have remained on the Whitehouse pub, or even returned to the building, then we would have been happy to give it pride of place. We took the advice of experts and it lead to the conclusion that this was simply not an option. The piece has now been preserved and we will ensure that a number of fantastic Liverpool causes benefit from its sale."

Tony Baxter, Director of Sincura Group said:- "We are delighted to include the Liverpool Rat in our upcoming show as it represents one of Banksy's most important pieces. We understand the lengths Ascot Property Group went to, to safely salvage the piece, which was no small feat given the level of damage; without this work the piece would have been lost to the elements forever. By putting it on the market it's sale will ensure both the piece's longevity and benefit to local charities."

Renovation of the Grade II listed Whitehouse building was carried out with the support of Liverpool City Council's Conservation Department and Heritage Lottery Funding. Scaffolding has now been removed from the building to reveal a smart appearance, with new paintwork and tiling. The property recently obtained a 1am licence for a food lead establishment and is due to reopen soon.

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