Banksy May (or May Not) Be the New Owner of This British Pub

The enigmatic artist is rumored to be renovating a bar near the site of Britain's biggest music festival.

For over 25 years, the elusive, prolific street artist Banksy has managed to keep his identity secret. Although there have been a lot of hunches, guesses, and conjecture about the man behind some of those now-iconic artworks, none of them have been confirmed. Regardless of who he is, some people in Somerset, England are suggesting that his latest project has been renovating their local pub.

According to Somerset Live, Banksy is allegedly one of the owners of The Crown, a 17th century pub in the tiny village of Pilton (Pop. 998). A handful of residents are convinced that the artist is among the group of people who paid £1 million ($1.2M) to buy the historic pub and pay for an "extensive" makeover.

Banksy has not confirmed his involvement in The Crown, so what gives? It’s a combination of things — including another locally circulating rumor that he owns a home near the pub. Others see clues in The Crown’s own art collection, noting that some of the works on display were done by Dorcas Casey, who was part of Banksy’s "Dismaland" exhibition in 2015. The pub’s proximity to the site of the annual Glastonbury festival has been interpreted as another potential factor.

"Banksy loved the idea of being part of Glastonbury and its right-on message," an unnamed source told the outlet. "It’s also a gateway to all the music superstars who attend. He has put a decent chunk of money in."

Owain Powell, who is currently running the pub with his partner, has denied that Banksy has anything to do with it. “I bought the pub with a couple of friends,” he told the Bristol Post.

What isn’t in doubt is the pub’s near-total renovation. According to The Crown’s website, the project took two years from start-to-finish, and required the work of "a fantastic team of local architects, builders, craftspeople, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, stonemasons, gardeners, landscapers, artists and friends." Two wood-burning stoves were installed in the pub’s front bar area, and the bar itself was refurbished, while the back half of the pub got a new game room — complete with the requisite pool table and dartboard — and a new dining area.

Pat Sumner, a member of The Crown’s kitchen staff, said that Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis was known to pop in, but hadn’t been around in a while. As far as Banksy goes, well, he added that you can't always believe what you hear. "Pilton is full of rumors," he told the Bristol Post. "I’ve lived here since 1985 and I can tell you that you hear so much different stuff."

Regardless of whether Banksy is involved or not, some are just glad that The Crown found a way to reopen, after being closed for several years. "I’m not too sure exactly who Banksy is but anyone who saves a pub from going out of business is alright in my eyes," one 63-year-old told The Scottish Sun. “I just hope that it doesn’t become a place where people just pop in and hope to catch a sight of this guy Banksy.”

Uh, who wants to tell him?

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