Controversial 'Slave Labour' mural by Banksy up for sale again

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 May, 2013, 5:22am


A work by renowned British graffiti artist Banksy that was withdrawn from a controversial US auction is being put up for sale again in London.

The mural, called Slave Labour, mysteriously vanished from its original site on a wall in north London in February before appearing on an auction list in Miami later that month.

The work, which shows a boy making Union Jack bunting on a sewing machine and is an apparent comment on sweatshop labour, was pulled from sale at the last minute, apparently after pressure by campaigners who wanted it returned to its original home.

The piece had been expected to fetch up to £450,000 (HK$5.36 million). The work first appeared in May last year on the wall of an outlet of thrift store Poundland in the Wood Green district of Haringey shortly before the British queen's diamond jubilee.

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

But Alan Strickland, a councillor for Wood Green who has spearheaded the Bring Back Banksy campaign since the piece was removed from its original site, said he would fight to prevent the sale going ahead.

"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. If it goes ahead every piece of street art will have its price."

Sincura director Tony Baxter said his group did "not condone any acts of wanton vandalism or other illegal activity" and said that they were "entirely satisfied that the mural was legally salvaged".