Art FocusArtist Buys Banksy’s ‘Slave Labour’ to Whitewash It

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American street artist Ron English has announced his plans to paint over a Banksy artwork after paying £561,000 for it.

Slave Labour (Bunting Boy), a celebrated work by Banksy and painted on the side of a North London Poundland in 2012, joined more of the elusive street artists’ work at the Street & Contemporary Art auction held by Juliens Auctions on Wednesday November 14.

One of the most publicised examples of Banksy’s social commentary, the black and white aerosol on concrete piece depicts a young child on his knees at a sewing machine, producing a string of Union Jack bunting.

Believed to be a protest against sweatshops used to manufacture souvenirs for the London Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, the mural went under the hammer for $730,000 (£561,000).

Its’ buyer—Ron English—plans to paint over it in protest of street art being bought and sold.

‘My idea for this painting is to whitewash it for my good pal Banksy, I only wish I could’ve spent more money for it,’ said English, who spent time in Palestine with the anonymous street artist.

‘I’m going to paint it white again, I’m done. This is a blow for street art. It shouldn’t be bought and sold.

‘I’m going to paint over it and just include it in one of the walls in my house. We’re tired of people stealing our stuff off the streets and re-selling it so I’m just going to buy everything I can get my hands on and whitewash it.’

The artwork sold for an astounding $600,000 plus the buyer’s premium, bringing the total to $730,000.

‘Then of course I’ll sell the whitewash painting for a million dollars. I’m crazy but I’m not stupid,’ the American artist added.

Other Banksy highlights at the auction included the sale of TV Girl, which sold for $38,400, and Applause (2006)—a Screenprint that achieved $19,200.

The works of Street Art legend, Jean Michel Basquiat also went under the hammer. Head (Portfolio I) (2001) sold for $87,000 and his personal Comme des Garçon coat made $28,125.

In the buildup the sale, Darren Julien, president/chief executive officer of Julien’s Auctions said: ‘We can’t guarantee that our four Banksy’s will automatically shred or explode but they will sell to the highest bidder!’

Last month, one of Banksy’s most recognisable paintings, Girl with Balloon (2006), self-destructed immediately after the gavel came down for an overwhelming £1.04 million.

See also: Banksy Releases Video Showing ‘Rehearsal’ Shredding of Girl with Balloon

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