Withdrawn Miami Banksy up for auction again

Originally painted on a Poundland wall in London, Slave Labour goes under the hammer (again) next month
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Slave Labour (2012) - Banksy
Slave Labour (2012) - Banksy

A Banksy work that was withdrawn from a controversial Miami auction is to be put up for sale again - this time in London. The mural, Slave Labour, which depicts a boy making Union Jack bunting on a sewing machine, disappeared from a wall next to a Poundland shop in Wood Green, north London, in February then turned up on an auction list in Miami later that month only to disappear again the day of the sale, apparently after pressure by campaigners who wanted it returned to its original home. The mural had a pre-sale estimate of £450,000. 

It's now set go on sale at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden on June 2. The auctioneers The Sincura Group say that the mural has "been sensitively restored under a cloak of secrecy", and will be "the centrepiece" of the group's latest private art exhibition alongside pieces by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Mario Testino and Russell Young. 

However, not everyone's happy about the new sale. Alan Strickland, a Wood Green councillor who launched a 'Bring Back Banksy' campaign when the piece was removed from its original site, said he'd continue his fight to prevent a sale going ahead. 

"We feel very strongly that this piece was given freely by Banksy to our area, it belongs to the community and it should be returned to Wood Green," said Strickland. "The sale shows complete disregard for the strength of public feeling. "We were delighted to stop the sale in Miami and we are determined to campaign hard to stop this sale. "News that the piece is being sold at an exclusive VIP reception is particularly galling for residents who previously enjoyed the artwork for free on a daily basis." 

Strickland thinks a successful sale of the work could set a dangerous precedent for other pieces of street art. "People from around the world have got in touch with us about this," he told AFP. "They are watching this because they know the possible consequences for street art where they live if this sale takes place. "If it goes ahead every piece of street art will have its price." 

Sincura's director Tony Baxter however, says he is "entirely satisfied that the mural was legally salvaged." He said the current owners of the work preferred to remain anonymous "due to unnecessary and disproportionate criticism," adding that the piece was now being represented by a group called Bankrobber.


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