Arts Council unable to prevent Banksy Poundland mural from being sold overseas


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The Independent Culture

Arts Council England has said it is unable to intervene in the sale of a Banksy mural removed from a wall in North London over the weekend.

The artwork on the side of a Poundland shop on the corner of Whymark Avenue, Wood Green appeared before the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last year and had since become a tourist attraction.

After its removal from a wall not owned by the Poundland chain the artwork was shipped to America where it is set to be auctioned on Saturday by Fine Art Auctions in Miami for up to £450,000.

Haringey council appealed to the Arts Council this week asking for it to prevent the sale of the work which has shocked and angered local residents.

But the Arts Council said "there’s not a great deal [it] can do" as the mural is less than 50 years old and not covered by current Export Control rules.

"Arts Council England is unable to directly intervene in this instance," chair Sir Peter Bazalgette said.

"It is a shame that a piece of street art that is well loved by the local community has been removed for auction," he added.

The issue "hinges on ownership" and Haringey council is attempting to contact the owners of the building to establish if the work was taken legally.

On Monday Haringey Councillor Alan Strickland said locals were "angry" that the Banksy had vanished.

"Residents have been really shocked and really astonished," he told the BBC. "Banksy gave that piece of art to our community, and people came from all over London to see it."

He added that residents were "disappointed" that a "piece of art that was given freely has been taken away from them and sold for an enormous profit".

Bargain goods chain Poundland has made it clear that it was not responsible for "either selling or removing" the Banksy piece, and that it does not own the building.

Scaffolding was put up over the building last Wednesday and the piece is believed to have been gone by Saturday.

Fine Art Auctions in Miami is auctioning the work as part of its Modern, Contemporary and Street Art sale.