A supernatural squabble has broken out between a British pub that dates back to medieval times and a Chinese artist.
The Ye Olde Man & Scythe, a 765-year-old pub in in Bolton, England, claims it was haunted by the ghost of James Stanley, the seventh earl of Derby, who was beheaded outside the pub in 1651. The establishment even posted footage on Youtube that allegedly features images of the ghost in action.
But the ghost has... well... given up the ghost. He’s missing, and the pub owners are blaming Chinese artist Lu Pingyuan for stealing it.
Lu wrote on his website that he caught the ghost at the pub in “a symbolic act in reaction to the UK’s colonialist past, which saw great losses of both tangible and intangible cultural assets by other nations.”
Now the pub wants its specter back.
Owner Richard Greenwood told the Bolton News that he sent a letter to the artist calling for the ghost’s return:
“I feel very strongly that James Stanley’s ghost should remain in Bolton and at Ye Olde Man and Scythe to preserve the natural order of things. That said I do believe that your exhibition should travel and be seen by many people around the world and I would like to contribute to this as long as at the end of your exhibition it returns home.”
Greenwood also told the newspaper that he’d contribute the chair reputed to have been the one Stanley sat in for his last meal if the artist would ensure the safe return of both phantom and chair.
Lu, who said on his website that his stories “are partly authentic and partly fictional, often enigmatic and concerned with spiritual themes,” told the Bolton News the ghost agreed to be captured and used for the exhibition.
The ghost may return, Lu said, but only if it wants to.
“My original thought is that after the world tour of exhibitions, I will discuss with him and ask him whether he would prefer to stay like this, as a piece of art, or go back to the Ye Olde Man and Scythe,” the artist was quoted as saying.
On the other hand, the pub should be able to spare a ghost or two. HuffPost UK reported that it has been haunted by at least 25 spirits, including the earl supposedly seen in the 2014 video.
After that footage went viral, a Colorado pub posted a similar video to show just how easily the stunt could be faked.