Banksy Work, Taken From London Wall, Turns Up in Miami, for Auction
“Slave Labor (Bunting Boy),” a 2012 work by the mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy, has vanished from a wall outside a discount store in London, and turned up at an auction house in Miami. And the town council in Haringey, the north London borough where the Banksy work appeared last May and disappeared last week, say that they want the piece returned.
The stenciled piece, which shows a young boy at an old fashioned sewing machine creating a string of Union Jacks – the flags are in bright red, white and blue; the rest of the picture is in black, white, grey and sepia – appeared last year during the celebrations commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne. It was taken as an acerbic social comment, as most of Banksy’s works are, and has been regarded as a cultural attraction in the Turnpike Lane neighborhood where it stood.
Banksy, though steadfastly maintaining his anonymity, has become an art-world celebrity. He is the subject of a new biography, “Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall,” by Will Ellsworth-Jones (St. Martin’s Press), and adocumentary film he directed, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (2010), was nominated for an Academy Award.
“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,” Alan Strickland, a member of the Haringey Council told The Associated Press. “The community feels that this artwork was given to it for free, and that it should be kept in Haringey where it belongs, not sold for a fast buck.”
Actually, the piece may go for quite a few fast bucks: Fine Art Auctions Miami, where the work has turned up, has included it in a Modern, Contemporary and Street Art sale scheduled for Saturday, and is expecting $500,000 to $700,000 for it.
How “Slave Labor” made its way to Miami is a mystery. Poundland, the shop where it originally appeared, has said that it was not involved with the work’s removal. And the auction house is not saying who is selling it, or how it was obtained.
“Fine Art Auctions Miami has done all the necessarily due diligence about the ownership of the work,” a spokeswoman for the house said on Wednesday morning. “Unfortunately we are not able to provide you with any information, by law and contract, about any details of this consignment. We are more than happy to do so if you can prove that the works were removed and acquired illegally.”