Monday 18 February 2013

Banksy mural vanishes from London, appears at US auction

A Banksy mural painted just before the Diamond Jubilee last year has vanished from a London street and been listed for sale at a US auction site.

The image, which shows a young boy hunched over a sewing machine making Union Jack bunting, disappeared from the side of a Poundland shop last week.

It is now for sale in Miami, with an estimate of £320,000 - £452,000.

Councillor Alan Strickland said there is "lots of anger" at the removal, and is campaigning for the work's return.

"Residents have been really shocked and really astonished," he told the BBC. "Banksy gave that piece of art to our community, and people came from all over London to see it.

He said residents are "disappointed" that a "piece of art that was given freely has been taken away from them and sold for an enormous profit".

'Above board'

Fine Art Auctions in Miami described the work as "stencil and spray paint on render with additional jubilee bunting".

It rejected suggestions that the mural was stolen, saying the listing came from a "well-known collector", who had signed a contract to say "everything was above board".

The work appeared in Whymark Avenue, Wood Green, north London, in May last year. It is thought to be a commentary on the use of sweat-shop labour.

Professor Paul Gough, an academic who studies street art, said it was likely to be a genuine Banksy, who works under a veil of anonymity, and rarely takes credit for his art.

Poundland welcomed the arrival of the piece, saying they were "fans of Banksy", but rejecting any suggestion they were the target of his satire.

Tim McDonnell, the store's retail director, said: "Poundland has a clear defined code of conduct for all our suppliers and a strong ethical stance on all labour issues."

Councillor Strickland said residents noticed scaffolding go up around the store last Wednesday.

"The scaffolding and tarpaulins came down on Friday, and on Saturday residents noticed that, where the Banksy had been, there was now a hole in the wall."

Number of thefts

The chain said it was not responsible for "either selling or removing the Banksy mural," saying it did not own the building.

The owners of the property have been traced, and Haringey council is trying to contact them to establish whether the work was taken legitimately.

Residents are also organising an email campaign, asking the auction company to abandon the sale.

Banksy's work has been at the centre of a number of thefts over the years.

In May 2010, two pieces were stolen from a gallery in London, after a man used a road sign to smash a glass window at the front of the building.

A year later, a piece known as Sperm Alarm was ripped off the wall of a hotel in Central London, and appeared on eBay for £17,000. It was never recovered.

Source: BBC

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