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Turnpike Lane’s Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) Banksy graffiti sale does not go ahead in online auction
8:16pm Saturday 23rd February 2013 in News
A piece of Banksy street art that disappeared from a wall in Turnpike Lane a week ago has been withdrawn from an auction after calls to stop the sale going ahead.
Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) was put on sale in an online auction hosted by US website Fine Art Auctions Miami, in which it was described as “stencil and spray paint on render with additional
jubilee bunting; unique street work”.
Although three bids were apparently made, it was withdrawn from sale.
The piece appeared on the site after disappearing along with a section of wall which sold the piece on behalf of a well-known, though unidentified, foreign collector.
It had a starting price of $400,000 dollars – more than £260,000 – and was estimated to fetch up to $700,000, almost £460,000.
The stencilled graffiti, with bunting attached, had appeared on the wall of the Poundland supermarket in Whymark Avenue in May last year, satirising both the build-up to the Queen’s Jubilee and supermarket chain’s since severed links to child labour.
It became a minor tourist attraction, and politicians calling for its return said many in the community considered it a gift.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone said it was “totally unethical” that something so valued should be torn from its community context.
The leader of Haringey Borough Council Cllr Claire Kober contacted Culture Secretary Maria Miller and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado to ask them to stop the sale going ahead.
In an open letter to the auction house the council said: “For you to allow it to be sold for huge profit in this way would be morally wrong, and completely contrary to the spirit in which we believe it was given to our community.”
But auction house owner Frederic Thut denied there was any illegality in the sale, telling the Guardian newspaper it was up to the owners of the wall what they did with it.
The art dealer said he had been "scapegoated" and argued that by selling the piece he was ensuring it would be conserved.