The ‘Poundland’ Banksy mural which appeared around the time of the Diamond Jubilee last year has been hacked off of the wall and listed for sale at a US auction site with a £320,000 -£452,000 estimate. The mural depicts a child labourer hunched over a sewing machine stitching a string of Union Jack bunting.The work created in Whymark Avenue, Wood Green, North London appeared in May last year. Banksy websites describe it as a statement on the use of sweat-shop child labour.
Local Councillor Alan Strickland said there is “lots of anger” at the removal, and is campaigning for the work’s return. “Residents have been really shocked and really astonished,” he told the BBC. “Banksy gave that piece of art to our community, and people came from all over London to see it. He said residents are “disappointed” that a “piece of art that was given freely has been taken away from them and sold for an enormous profit”.
Fine Art Auctions in Miami have described the work as “stencil and spray paint on render with additional jubilee bunting”. It rejected suggestions that the mural was stolen, saying the listing came from a “well-known collector”, who had signed a contract to say “everything was above board”.
The question remains as to whether or not this mural is subject to an export licence. It is possible given the value and cultural significance of the mural that an export licence should have been necessary, in order to take the work out of the country. The authorities have been informed and it is likely that the mural will be withdrawn from sale in the US and returned to the UK.
Residents and art enthusiasts are organising an email campaign, asking the auction company to abandon the sale. (see link)