Banksy mural torn from London wall 'must be sent home'

Feb 19, 2013

Council and residents angry that street artist's gift is up for sale on US auction site

NORTH London councillors are demanding the return of a mural by the street artist Banksy that was cut from the wall of a Poundland shop last week. The stencilled image of a child making Union Jack bunting is being offered for sale on a US online auction site with an estimate of $500,000-$700,000.

Haringey councillor Alan Strickland told the BBC there was "lots of anger" at the removal of the mural from the wall in Wood Green. "Residents have been really shocked and really astonished," he said. "Banksy gave that piece of art to our community, and people came from all over London to see it."

The mural, which appeared shortly before last year's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, is believed to be a comment on companies that use sweatshop labour.

Fine Art Auctions in Miami has listed an identical work on its website as 'Banksy Slave Labor (Bunting Boy). London 2012'. The site lists the mural’s properties "as stencil and spray paint on render with additional jubilee bunting".

The owner of the Fine Art Auctions website, Frederic Thut, told The Sun that the mural had not been stolen and came from a "well-known collector" who is "not British". The collector, whom he refused to name, had signed a contract to say "everything is above board".

Thut added: "If he [the collector] has lied to us it is important to know. But I don’t think he lies to us." The Banksy mural had become popular with local residents and had drawn tourists to the Whymark Avenue site, reports The Guardian. The council erected signs at the nearest Tube station directing visitors to the street and it had been protected with an acrylic sheet.

A resident told the Harringay Online website that the artwork had been surrounded by scaffolding and tarpaulin in the days before it disappeared.

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It should be possible to check for "Haringey's DNA" on it.

But is it worth it? Great art? Rowlocks!