Recently The Ye Olde Man & Scythe, a 765-year-old British pub, lost its ghost. Sorry had it’s ghost stolen. The ghost of the seventh earl of Derby, James Stanley, was allegedly stolen from the pub by Chinese artist Lu Pingyuan.

Folks you can’t make this stuff up.

Owner of the pub Richard Greenwood wants his ghost back and he wants him back now:

“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.”

Lu’s purpose in stealing the ghost represents “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.” Makes total sense.

So who was this James Stanley? His family originally owned the pub and that’s also where he was beheaded in 1651. The chair that he last occupied before his death is still said to be at the pub and Greenwood is offering up this chair to Lu in exchange for his beloved ghost. The pub, which originated around 1251 is the fourth-oldest pub around town and is actually known to house around 25 ghosts. The Ye Olde Man & Scythe has even provided CCTV footage as proof that James Stanley’s ghost existed at the pub.


So what does Lu have to say about all this? He claims that he did not steal anyone’s ghost but that the ghost of James Stanley went with Lu on his own accord. He also says that the pub can have their ghost back only if Earl Stanley wants to go back.

I personally think Stanley will grab a flight to Hawaii and live (exist out?) his remaing years on a beach sipping Mai Tais, after all he’s finally free.