You might remember the story of the uproar earlier this year over a piece of art by the mysterious graffiti artist Banksy that disappeared from its home on a wall in north London and ended up on the auction block in Miami.
That auction was canceled, and residents of Haringey Borough, the area from which the mural disappeared, were jubilant, hoping that “Slave Labour,” the Banksy mural, would be returned to its home. Unfortunately for them, that might not happen.
The stencil of a young boy sewing the Union Jack is the centerpiece of a June 2 exhibition in London, after which it will head to the U.S., where it is to be part of an “important private collection,” according to the Sincura Group, which is organizing the exhibition and auction. In a statement, it adds: “The showing of this piece was the culmination of months of hard work and we simply wish to display it … again [in] its home city before it disappears forever.”
The statement notes that law enforcement authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have determined that the mural was removed legally.
It was initially reported that Sincura was auctioning the artwork, but the company noted that it was “making no financial gain from displaying this piece of art.”
The Haringey Independent newspaper notes that the local council is working to get the artwork back.
In a statement, the head of the Trades Union Council for Haringey said:
“We appreciate that Sincura have made efforts to check that nothing illegal has taken place but it is a matter of business ethics. Banksy was certainly not asked before the work was removed let alone the people of Haringey in whose area he painted it. It should not be in private hands in the US, however it got there, but on display and not in Covent Garden but in Wood Green N22.”
As we reported in February, the Banksy artwork was expected to fetch between $500,000 and $700,000. As Eyder wrote at the time:
“Banksy, if you are not familiar, is a shadowy figure in the art world. He doesn’t give interviews and has gone from being a “guerrilla street artist” to a celebrated one worth millions. There is tension in those two things: On the one hand, he’s a rebel, a critic of both the traditional art world and the government, but on the other hand, his street art is fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars and threatening to erode his street cred.”