70k Masterpiece stolen from London Hotel discovered on ebay
A man has been committed to trial accused of stealing a work by the highly regarded street artist Banksy. The work was taken from the wall of a four star hotel, located in Victoria central London, on February 9 and April 4, 2011. Leon Lawrence, 31, was caught ‘red handed’ while trying to sell the masterpiece in a reserve auction starting at £17,000 on eBay. He is thought to have removed the work from a back wall of the Hesperia Hotel, earlier this year.It is alleged that he than put the piece, titled “Sperm Alarm”, on the popular internet auction site ebay. The stencil work depicts 15 sperm swimming round a red Angus sprinkler alarm represented as an egg.Lawrence appeared at Southwark Crown Court on 22 December. He has denied theft, handling stolen goods, damaging property and attempting to convert or transfer criminal property.Judge Anthony Leonard QC has ordered Lawrence to stand trial in the week beginning May 7, 2012 he was remanded on unconditional bail .
Banksy’s work typically includes satirical social and political commentary, and ranges from murals to sculpture and installation, often playing with the contextual aspects of the work. He also recently designed a 3 dimensional adaptation of a Monopoly Board with Mr Moneybags portrayed as a down and out panhandler. There are large scale models of playing pieces, including a sports car (to represent bankers) and a red plastic house with a Tox tag sprayed onto it. This is a reference to the jailed London Graffiti artist TOX and also a visual play on the toxic morgages that kick started the current recession. The work of art is has already become a tourist attraction. The artist’s first solo show was held in 2002 at Los Angeles’ 33 1/3 Gallery, and in 2003 he was commissioned to design to cover of Blur’s ThinkTank. Today, Banksy’s work appears internationally; most notably, he painted nine sardonic images on the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier. In Summer 2009, Banksy took over the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery with an exhibition attracting over 300,000 visitors and hour-long queues all the way down the road. Most recently the artist has experimented with film, achieving an Oscar nomination for his documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop. Record Banksy prices have been achieved at auction, in the last few years. Banksy never authenticates outdoor works that have been removed, from their context, making them difficult to sell on the open market. Read More Banksy News Here