Stealing Banksy exhibition: Artist 'condemns' unauthorised auction on opening day

Graffiti artist releases statement on the opening day of the London auction

Guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy has condemned the exhibition Stealing Banksy as “disgusting” and unauthorised on its opening day, after the group behind the controversial exhibit defended their decision to remove his art from spaces and sell it.

The event has been courting controversy ever since it was first announced, with many angered that his work is being removed and sold off in what is being promoted as “the most expensive collection of Banksy artworks ever assembled”.

The pieces currently up for auction were salvaged from walls in various cities and in one case from the side of a lorry. The artworks, which include No Ball Games and Liverpool Rat, are expected to collectively fetch up to £3 million. Their authenticity has not been verified.

Banksy's website is now covered by a blanket statement, which reads: “The Stealing Banksy exhibition in London this weekend has been organised without the involvement or consent of the artist."

However, the following paragraph, apparently directly from the artist himself, carries a somewhat ironic tone, with Banksy expressing his “disgust” at people who are allowed to display art on walls without being granted permission.

A woman examines 'Brace Yourself', by the street artist Banksy which has gone on show during the 'Stealing Banksy?' exhibition at the ME Hotel on The Strand on April 24, 2014 in London, England. A woman examines 'Brace Yourself', by the street artist Banksy which has gone on show during the 'Stealing Banksy?' exhibition at the ME Hotel on The Strand on April 24, 2014 in London, England. The statement might be worth reading in a slightly more humorous manner, considering it comes from the artist who has built a career upon unauthorised artworks in public spaces. Just weeks ago Bansky was credited with adorning the side of a person’s house in Cheltenham with a seemingly GCHQ inspired piece.

The statement continues: “Banksy would like to make it clear – This show has got nothing to do with me and I think it’s disgusting people are allowed to go around displaying art on walls without permission.”

Banksy’s murals often raise the issue of ownership when they are removed from their original location and sold. Most recently, the leader of a youth club removed one of his latest pieces ‘Mobile Lovers’ with a crow bar and announced his intention to auction it off for £100,000 in order to raise funds for the club.

The organisation responsible for the sale of his work has defended the auction and despite naming the exhibition "Stealing Banksy” insists it does not steal art.

Tony Baxter, director of The Sincura Group said: “The Sincura Group are approached by building owners to remove the artwork illegally painted on their sites. The building owners have not asked for the art to be placed on their premises or for the on-going attention received from it.

“Whatsmore, they run the very real risk of having a grade 2 listing applied to their premises which seriously affects their business operations and resale value. Though loved by the public these are often a hindrance to the building owners.”

The group said it has made no financial gain from the sale of street art to date.

Sincura has previously come under criticism for selling Banksy's Slave Labour work for more than £750,000, after it was removed from a wall in London.

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