Graffiti artist Banksy has offered to sell one of his stencils to save the former prison where Oscar Wilde was an inmate from property developers.
He used the large cut-out when spraying an artwork on a wall at HMP Reading, formerly Reading Gaol, at the end of February, which was seen as a sign of support for a local campaign to save the building for the community.
The stencil for ‘Create Escape’ – depicting an inmate lowering himself down the wall on sheets that morph into paper and a typewriter – has since been valued at up to £15million.
The Ministry of Justice is said to want £10million for the jail, but Banksy’s offer is conditional on the building becoming a community facility. He said: ‘Converting the place that destroyed [Wilde] into a refuge for art feels so perfect.’
Wilde was imprisoned there from 1895 to 1897 after being convicted of gross indecency over a gay love affair. His poem The Ballad Of Reading Gaol is about the brutality of the Victorian penal system.
The Ministry of Justice said: ‘The deadline for bids has passed and we are considering the ones we received.’