A month since a Banksy self-destructed after passing under the hammer at Sotheby’s, another work by the elusive street artist has sold for £561,000 (including buyer’s premium) to a buyer who has vowed to whitewash it.
US artist, Ron English, purchased ‘Slave Labour (Bunting Boy)’ at auction at Julien’s in Los Angeles on Wednesday (14 November 2018). The painting of a young child bent over a sewing machine producing a string of Union Jack bunting appeared on the side of bargain store Poundland in Wood Green in 2012. Following the sale, English said he planned to paint over the mural because street art “shouldn’t be bought and sold”.
English, who says he has spent time in Palestine with the much-loved Bristolian artist, explained: “my idea for this painting is to whitewash it for my good pal Banksy, I only wish I could’ve spent more money on it”. He said it was the first of many purchases he was planning to protest the commodification of street art. “We’re tired of people stealing our stuff off the streets and reselling it so I’m just going to buy everything I can get my hands on and whitewash it”, he stated.
‘Slave Labour’ is considered an attack on the use of sweatshops to manufacture souvenirs for the London Olympics. Livid Wood Green residents protested its removal from the Poundland wall in February 2013.
After it has hung on the wall in his house, English said he planned to sell the whitewashed painting for a million dollars. “I’m crazy but I’m not stupid”, he added.