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​Artist Pays £561k For Banksy Artwork Just So He Can Whitewash It

​Artist Pays £561k For Banksy Artwork Just So He Can Whitewash It

US street artist Ron English has just forked out $730,000 (£561,000) for a Banksy artwork that he claims he'll whitewash as a protest of the market in street art. Ouch.

The artwork, 'Slave Labour', features a young child on his knees using a sewing machine to make Union Jack bunting.

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It had been painted on the outside wall of a Poundland shop in Wood Green, north London, back in 2012, but was removed from the wall shortly after - before resurfacing in in the US. After an appeal, it was then returned to the UK and sold at auction in Covent Garden.

English has decided to buy the artwork at the auction in LA on Wednesday so that he can paint over it, saying that street art 'shouldn't be bought and sold'.

Darren Julien of Julien's Auctions said the painting sold for almost $600,000 plus the buyers premium, bringing the total to $730,000.

The wall of the London Poundland shop where Banksy's 'Slave Labour' was removed. Credit: PA
The wall of the London Poundland shop where Banksy's 'Slave Labour' was removed. Credit: PA

English said: "Well 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.

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"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.

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"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."

English, who has apparently spend time with Banksy in Palestine, added: "Then of course I'll sell the the whitewash painting for a million dollars. I'm crazy but I'm not stupid."

I'm not stupid but I am confused.

English's decision follows the recent sale of Banksy's iconic 'Girl With A Balloon' artwork, which self-destructed immediately after selling for a cool £860,000 ($1.13 million) - or around £1.04m ($1.36m) if you add the buyer's premium onto that.

A hidden mechanism in the frame of the painting was triggered and the painting itself began to be shredded out of the bottom of the frame, leading to shocked gasps from people at the auction. Pretty good stunt, eh?

After the auction, Banksy uploaded a picture of the shocked crowd inside the auction house, captioning it: "Going, going, gone..."

Sotheby's European head of contemporary art told the press afterwards: "We've just been Banksy'ed."

He also said that the shredding is now 'part of' the art work.

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/Ron English/Wikimedia Commons

Topics: News, Art, US News, Banksy

Jess Hardiman

Jess is a journalist at LADbible who graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Film Studies, English Language and Linguistics - indecisiveness at its finest, right there. She also works for FOODbible and its sister page Seitanists, which are both a safe haven for her to channel a love for homemade pasta, fennel and everything else in between. You can contact Jess at [email protected]