Thanks to a committed gift from Banksy, the Reading prison where Oscar Wilde was briefly imprisoned may be converted into an art center.
Earlier last year, the enigmatic graffiti artist stenciled a prisoner attempting to flee through sheets held down by a typewriter. The work's sale is expected to bring in roughly £10 million GBP (which is approximately $13.3 million USD, which will be contributed to Reading Borough Council's attempts to purchase the building, which has subsequently been designated as an LGBT historic site.
Wilde was jailed in Reading Gaol from 1895 to 1897 on accusations of "gross immorality" after it was revealed that he was having an affair with Lord Alred Douglas. He was regarded as one of the greatest authors in the history of English literature. Banksy believes that "turning the building that ruined him into a shelter for art seems so beautiful we had to do it," according to a statement first published by the BBC.
The Ministry of Justice decommissioned Reading Gaol in 2013, and the property has been on the market since then. The location has also drawn an unidentified number of bidders interested in turning it into an apartment complex. Judi Dench and Kate Winslet, both members of the cultural community, have publicly expressed their support for the conversion of the land into an artistic center. Although just early discussions have taken place between Banksy and Reading Borough Council, both parties are optimistic that the initiative will proceed as planned.