We know who is doing this. It is not illegal, but it is amoral. Won’t someone please stop this cultural pillaging! A second mural by the internationally respected street artist Banksy depicting two children playing catch with a sign that says, ‘No Ball Games’ has been hacked from a wall in Tottenham, North London. This is the second mural to be removed from public display, in the borough, ‘allegedly’ by Stephan Keszler, the owner of the eponymous NY gallery, and Robin Barton, the owner of London’s Bankrobber Gallery. Both parties are rumoured to be involved in handling the sale of this latest mural. The firm managing the sale, the Sincura Group has not released the names of the culprits, as they wish to remain anonymous for many reasons. They stated that the mural had not been appreciated in situ and was to be sold.
Last year a Banksy mural titled, ‘Slave Labour’ was ripped off a wall outside a Poundland shop in Haringey. It later turned up in a Miami auction and was withdrawn, after a public outcry. It was later offered for sale in a London auction, selling for a reported £750,000.
This latest mural to be targeted is one of Banksy’s largest works.The brickwork has now been separated into three pieces and the artwork has been crated for removal. The Sincura group’s director Tony Baxter said he had been approached and asked if he could manage the sale of ‘No Ball Games’. He declined to say who approached him. He added that the artwork had been defaced a number of times and people’s view of it had been spoilt by renovation work in the area and a “pylon” being placed in front of it with a security camera. He said it would be restored over six months before being auctioned in spring next year.
Councillor Alan Strickland of Haringey Council said he was “very disappointed” that a “community landmark” had been removed. Haringey Trades Council secretary Keith Flett said: “The Banksy was an important cultural feature of the area and if it has been removed it will be another indication that local people’s wishes come second to the interests of profit.” Residents in Tottenham are furious after another piece of their heritage was taken away from them”.
What we can do
These works of art have been created by the artist at no charge to the public. They have been donated to the community at large. Perhaps the auctioneers/ dealers should be paying an artist resale fee (Droit de Suite) to the artists, so at least the artist will get something financial back for all of the pleasure they have given the public. This would amount to 5%. It is at least something and it is an enforceable EU law!!
Banksy has already distanced himself from these ‘stolen’ works of art. He has refused to authenticate them through his official board ‘Pest Control’. We should insure that public pressure stops anyone from purchasing these public murals, as they should in theory be valueless.
Legitimate art dealers and auctioneers should not be handling these works, in the same way as they are scrutinised for dealing in stolen antiquities. Banksy and other leading street artists should be considered part of a cultural heritage and granted listed status in the same way as important architecture.