North Londoners are furious over a missing Banksy mural that was torn off a building in the Wood Green neighborhood of the city and has since resurfaced online at Fine Art Auctions Miami.
The high-profile mural features a young boy on his knees, hunched over a sewing machine and stitching Union Jack bunting. It went up last May on the wall of a Poundland department store in advance of June’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration for Queen Elizabeth II. According to the Guardian, it’s considered a commentary condemning child labor.
The mural -- which was a popular draw to the neighborhood, attracting locals and tourists alike -- is now titled “Banksy Slave Labor (Bunting Boy). London 2012" on the auction site. It’s listed for $500,000 to $700,000 and is described by Fine Art Auctions Miami as a “unique street work” of “stencil and spray paint on render with additional jubilee bunting.”
The auction house, which says it specializes in “important Russian, Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary works,” says the mural was put up for sale by a known collector, but Fine Art Auctions Miami owner Frederic Thut won’t reveal the person’s name.
“The collector signed a contract saying everything was aboveboard,” Thut told the Sun.
The Poundland department store denied any responsibility for the mural’s removal. On Sunday, it tweeted: “We would like to confirm that we are not responsible for either selling or removing the Banksy mural. We are currently investigating.” Another of its tweets reads: “Once we know more we’ll let you know. We do not own the building.”
Alan Strickland, a local councilman, urged his Twitter followers to email the auctioneers in protest. He tweeted: “Pls RT. Save our Banksy from sale. Let’s all email art company auctioning it on firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them to withdraw it from auction.”
In an interview with the BBC, Strickland said residents of the neighborhood are “shocked and really astonished.”
“Banksy gave that piece of art to our community, and people came from all over London to see it,” Strickland said.
Banksy’s work has long caught the eye of art thieves. According to the BBC, two Banksy works were stolen from a London gallery in 2010. Another of the artist’s works, “Sperm Alarm,” was stolen from a London hotel in 2011.
Banksy famously doesn’t authenticate works with his name on them that are up for auction. He strongly believes that street art should remain at the original location, where it was painted -- on the street.