December 13 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, February 23, 2013
A Banksy mural that disappeared from the side of a Poundland in Wood Green will go under the hammer tonight.
The street art, called Slave Labour, depicts a young boy hunched over a sewing machine making Union Jack bunting.
The work, which was painted in May 2012 just before the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, disappeared last weekend.
Fine Art Auctions in Miama, Florida, featured the piece on their website ahead of it being auctioned tonight, where it could fetch as much as £450,000.
A rat holding up a sign saying: “Why?” has been stencilled next to the empty space where the mural stood, with some speculating it could be another work by Banksy.
Haringey Council is leading a campaign to bring back the artwork, and last week called on the Arts Council to intervene due to the local and national significance of the art work.
Cllr Alan Strickland said: “The Banksy created a huge amount of excitement when it first appeared, and residents are understandably shocked and angry that it has been removed for private sale.
“The community feels that this art work was given to it for free, and that it should be kept in Haringey where it belongs, not sold for a fast buck.
“This is an area that was rocked by riots less than a year before this mural was painted, and for many in the community the painting has become a real symbol of local pride.
“We’re asking the Arts Council to intervene because we believe that the strong local and national significance of the mural mean it is wrong to export it.
“We’re determined to do what we can to bring back Banksy to Haringey.”
The council is investigating how the removal of the mural occurred.
Council leader Claire Kober said they were trying to “explore all avenues” before the sale and had also appealed to Mayor of Miami Tomas Regalado to help.
In an open letter to FAA owner Frederic Thut from the people of Haringey, posted on the council’s website, they urged him to abandon the sale.
The letter read: “We understand that there may be nothing illegal in the way this artwork was quietly removed from our streets and put up for auction by you in Miami.
“But for you to allow it to be sold for huge profit in this way would be morally wrong, and completely contrary to the spirit in which we believe it was given to our community.”
Mr Thut said he had been inundated with angry phone calls from the UK over the sale, but has insisted that the artwork was not stolen.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “There have been no reports of any theft. It appears there has been a decision by someone to remove it for sale - there is no suggestion of any crime being committed.
“We have been in touch with the US authorities about the ownership of it and advised them that there has not been a theft.”