A struggling youth club in the British city of Bristol was right to remove a Banksy artwork from a wall and ask the public for donations to see it, art fans say.
Dozens of people paid on Wednesday to view Mobile Lovers at Broad Plain & Riverside Youth Project in Bristol, which needs to raise STG120,000 ($A216,352.65) to survive.
The piece was posted to the street artist’s website on Monday but the location was not disclosed.
However, Mobile Lovers – painted on a black piece of wood screwed to a wall – was tracked to Clement Street, close to Bristol’s bustling shopping centre.
Hours later, a group of workers from the financially struggling youth club used crowbars to remove it.
It has now been installed in a corridor in the centre, which has provided opportunities for young people in Bristol for 120 years.
David Stinchcombe, 58, leader of the youth project, hopes to raise thousands of pounds by selling the piece – providing vital funds to help the centre remain open.
Visitors initially voiced outrage when they were confronted with the empty doorway on the street, but on Wednesday reaction to the “theft” had changed, with many welcoming it.
Alison Bevan, director of the Royal West of England Academy, the first art gallery in Bristol, described the piece as “brilliant”.
“It is great to have Banksy back here,” she said.
“He has made his mark and built his reputation then come back and effectively donated work to the public in Bristol.
“I think that the fact it was screwed on to a wall makes it extremely portable and would have increased the likelihood of someone taking it.
“From my point of view, the fact it has come to an organisation like this, that is supporting the local community is better than it going straight to some wealthy collector.”
The youth club first spotted the piece on Monday but did not believe it was authentic.
However, after hearing it had been confirmed by the artist, Stinchcombe organised a group to guard it.
On Tuesday he took the decision to remove it from the wall and put it into the club, where members of the public are welcome to view it.
Visitors are advised they do not need to donate to the club, but many insist they want to do so.
Engineer Paul Messenger, 52, of Bristol said: “I don’t mind at all, I think it was a sensible thing to do.
“It can make money for a good cause. I would suggest it was the right thing to do.”
His mother, Dorothy Messenger, 90, agreed, adding: “I enjoyed seeing it, it was very good.”
A screen print of Mobile Lovers has been pasted on top of the boarded up doorway in place of the original.
Youth worker Jordan Powell, 19, from Warmley, Bristol, has refused to leave the original in case it is stolen.
“I haven’t been home yet, I stayed in the club overnight,” he said.
“It would have probably been taken by someone else and sold privately so nobody could have seen it.
“Everyone can still see it here and it is safe.
“Everyone has their own opinions, some are probably jealous but it is going to a great cause, it is going to help the youngsters in Banksy’s hometown.”
The discovery of Mobile Lovers comes days after a piece depicting three 1950s-style agents listening in on conversations in a telephone box appeared on a house in Cheltenham.
A spokeswoman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We have not had any reports of a criminal offence.
“There is not a police investigation at this stage.”