IN AN unexpected twist of fate, Banksy could provide a huge boost to plans to restore a popular seafront lido.

This comes after a man snatched a piece by the world's most famous street artist from Brighton seafront in 2004 before taking it on Antiques Roadshow to have it valued earlier this year.

Appearing on the popular BBC show, the man said: “I used to live in Brighton in the late 90s, early 2000s, and I was walking along Brighton seafront and I saw it on the lido (sic).

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"It looked loose. I went over, pulled it off basically.

“(I gave it) a little bit of a tug.”

It is believed the artwork, which shows a cartoon rat holding a pneumatic drill underneath the street artist's tag, could have been taken from the exterior of Saltdean Lido.

Antiques Roadshow expert Robert Maas said the piece could be worth more than £20,000 if the man could obtain a certificate of authenticity from Banksy himself - available through his website.

However, the artist was unlikely to issue this as the piece had been "removed from the public domain for which it was painted, and into the private".

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Now, Saltdean Lido have suggested a way in which both they and the man could benefit from this situation.

In a post on social media, the attraction posted a statement which read: "A Banksy at Saltdean Lido?

"Graffiti art was allegedly taken from our pool in the early 2000s.

"With £700,000 left to raise for the lido’s restoration, we would gladly work with the finder to establish the facts and share any proceeds."

Extensive repairs are needed because the structure is under attack from the salt in sea-dredged gravel that was used in its construction.

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Built between 1937 and 1938, Saltdean Lido is the only Grade II listed coastal lido in England.

The site endured years of neglect before the foundation of two organisations - the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company (SLCIC) and Saltdean Lido Trust (SLT) - to protect the much-loved structure.

The groups have already started restoring the pool and its art deco architecture, and have plans to continue to renovate the site.

They say the fully restored lido will contain an art deco ballroom, heritage cafe, community hub, library, exercise centre and an arts and activity space.

The Saltdean Lido website states: "Our mission is to preserve and restore Saltdean Lido, giving it a new lease of life and purpose for the 21 Century, while understanding and celebrating its unique architecture and heritage."

An Easyfundraising page has been set up to support this restoration, with more than £3,000 collected so far.

In July this year, restoration efforts received a further boost after Brighton and Hove City Council granted it a 63-year lease, allowing it to access £4 million of national lottery funding.

Lido director Derek Leaver said: “This is a significant step forward in Saltdean Lido’s history, as securing the lease enables us to access funds to start engaging with structural engineers and architects.

The Argus: Saltdean Lido

“We need to design how we can restore the building within the guidelines set by Historic England and the National Heritage Lottery fund while providing a sustainable building for use by the community.

“We thank everyone who has generously helped raise funds and volunteered so far for this historic project and look forward to presenting plans for getting the best use out of this potentially lovely building in due course.

“The project is currently costed at just under £8 million and we need to continue to fundraise for the last £700,000, which is required before we can actually start any of the building work.”