Missing Banksy street mural up for auction in Miami

Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:41am EST
 
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By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - A mural by famed street artist Banksy is up for sale at a Miami auction house after the work, and a chunk of the North London wall it was spray-painted on, vanished late last week.

Who owns the mural is unclear, and how it ended up in a Miami auction house shortly after going missing is still a mystery.

Frederic Thut, owner of Fine Art Auctions Miami, which is selling the piece, said his firm has done "all necessary due diligence" to establish the ownership of the work.

"Unfortunately we're not able to provide any information by law and contract about the details of this consignment," he said.

The mural was painted on a building occupied by Poundland Stores, a British retailer that sells various items for only a pound. The work, titled "Banksy: Slave Labor," shows a young boy kneeling at a sewing machine with Union Jack bunting.

It appeared in 2012 during Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, celebrating her 60th year on the throne. The Poundland chain was a focal point of controversy in 2010 when it was alleged that it sold goods made by Indian children as young as seven.

"We lease the premises from a landlord and were as shocked and surprised as anyone at the removal of the Banksy artwork," Kate Gibson, a spokeswoman for Poundland, wrote in an email. "We understand the upset this has caused and in no way do we condone the removal of the artwork without proper consultation with the community."

Gibson didn't say whether Poundland officials have spoken with the landlord and she couldn't provide any details on the property owner.   Continued...

 
A woman takes a photograph of the former site of "Banksy: Slave Labour", a mural attributed to graffiti artist Banksy, in north London February 20, 2013. The mural is up for sale at a Miami auction house after the work, and a chunk of the North London wall it was spray-painted on, vanished late last week. REUTERS/Neil Hall