A street artist pastes an image on a London wall from which
a section, containing an image thought to be by graffiti
artist Banksy, was removed and shipped to the US.
Two spray-paint murals by the elusive street artist
Banksy, including one that vanished last week from a North
London wall, have been pulled in the 11th hour from a Miami
Who owns the London mural remains a mystery, as does how it
ended up in a Miami auction house shortly after going
Frederic Thut, owner of Fine Art Auctions Miami, which had
been due to sell the piece, has said his firm did "all
necessary due diligence" to establish the ownership of the
work. But the London piece and another Banksy mural were
"Although there are no legal issues whatsoever regarding the
sale of lots 6 and 7 by Banksy, Fine Art Auctions Miami
convinced its consignors to withdraw these lots from the
auction and take back the power of authority of these works,"
Thut wrote in an email. They had been due to be auctioned on
The work at the center of the controversy 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 Labour," shows a young boy kneeling at a
sewing machine with Union Jack bunting.
The mural appeared in 2012 during Queen Elizabeth's Diamond
Jubilee celebrating her 60th year on the throne. The
Poundland chain was a focal point of controversy in 2010
because of allegations it sold goods made by Indian children
as young as 7.
The Miami auction house has declined to say who owns the
mural, valued between $500,000 and $700,000.
Banksy's trademark spray-paint stencils offering ironic
social commentary are never verified, although they are hotly
sought after by collectors.
Poundland was only a tenant of the property, and has
condemned the removal via a spokesperson and social media.
SECOND MURAL PULLED
Also pulled from the auction was a piece titled Wet Dog,
valued between $600,000 and $800,000, owned by Stephan
Keszler, a New York gallery owner who specializes in Banksy's
The spray-painted piece shows a silhouette of a dog wildly
shaking water out of its fur, and was said to have been
painted in the West Bank in 2006 or 2007. It was salvaged in
2010 by Keszler and his team on behalf of the property's
owner, and he later purchased it.
"We pulled it because of the hype. We did not feel
comfortable in this environment," Keszler said of the
decision to remove the piece from the auction. "But I think
we are very happy that an auction has tried to get Banksy's
street works into auction. It's a breakthrough."
Keszler declined to answer whether he represented the
yet-to-be-named owner of Slave Labour.
Keszler has come under fire from critics who say he is
selling stolen art. He contends the works belong to the
owners of the properties where they first appeared.
"Banksy's not asking you if you're happy with the work on
your house. It's your property and you can do with this
whatever you want without asking Banksy, so a lot of people
they destroy it, they paint over it," he said. "Some people
see it's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so they're
trying to get them removed and they're trying to sell them."