Banksy is offering £10m to buy Reading Gaol, according to reports.

The street artist intends to raise the money to turn the prison where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated into an arts centre, according to The Times.

National reports suggest this will be achieved by selling the stencil 'The Great Escape', worth up to £15m, which they used to paint on an outer wall of the building in March.

Read more: Council reacts to Banksy bid for Reading prison 

Banksy told The Times: "I’m passionate about it now.

He continued: "Oscar Wilde is the patron saint of smashing two contrasting ideas together to create magic.

"Converting the place that destroyed him into a refuge for art feels so perfect we have to do it.”

The news comes after it was revealed to the Reading Chronicle that a famous artist was eyeing up the space.

Banksy threw spotlight on the gaol early this year by creating artwork on its outer wall.

Read more: Photo of Reading Gaol by Caversham man wins national art award

The Reading Chronicle previously backed a bid by Reading East MP Matt Rodda to turn the jail into an art hub.

“There is significant support to redevelop the site and use it for the arts and heritage because of its connection to Oscar Wilde and because it is the burial place of King Henry I, whose tomb is believed to sit among the ruins of Reading Abbey beneath the gaol,” said the MP.

The Ministry of Justice has been attempting to sell the prison, but developer Artisan Real Estate pulled out of plans to buy the prison last year.

Read more: More graffiti will be purged and Banksy-like street art will be protected

Reading Borough Council bid £2.6m in 2020 to turn the site into a heritage centre and arts hub with a cafe and housing, but the plan was rejected.

Council leader Jason Brock said: “We very much welcome the attention that Banksy’s interest in Reading Gaol has placed on both the MoJ’s sale of the vacant prison and on the Council’s ambition to transform it into an hub of arts, heritage and culture of local and national significance.

“The Council has had only informal approaches from representatives of Banksy to date, but no detailed discussions.

“Our bid remains firmly on the table and has widespread support - both from within the community here in Reading and from the wider arts, heritage and cultural community - all of whom recognise the prison’s huge historical and cultural value.”

In a letter to Justice Minister Dominic Raab, Reading East MP Matt Rodda said Banksy’s multi-million-pound pledge could top up council plans.

“Our position has always been that we want to work with the MoJ to ensure the historical and cultural value of this important site is given rightful prominence in any future development,” said Cllr Brock.

“We would additionally welcome and encourage any alternative bids to the MoJ which seek to achieve that, whether from community organisations or from members of the wider arts and cultural community.

“The strength of feeling to transform the prison into something truly special for Reading and beyond is clear to see and we very much hope this is taken into account by the MoJ as it comes to a decision on the sale.”