Street artist Banksy’s latest piece, dubbed Mobile Lovers is now on display in Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. It was found and ‘taken in’ by the owner of the local Broad Plains Boys Club in an attempt to raise money for his ailing club, however Bristol City Council claimed that it was found on their land so handed it over to the museum.
More than 10,000 people visited the museum over the Bank Holiday weekend proving that Banksy is still as popular as ever with work that continues to speak to people.
This minor controversy over who, if anyone, has the right to sell the work of a street artist came just a few days before an online auction selling Banksy’s work that took place on Sunday.
In an unusually direct statement on Banksy’s website the artist said: “The Stealing Banksy exhibition in London this weekend has been organised without the involvement or consent of the artist. 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 getting permission.”
The pieces for sale with an estimated value of £3m were all removed from where Banksy originally painted them. Most were from walls and advertising boards, and a few were even taken from the sides of lorries.
Previously Sincura Group, the organisation behind the auction, were criticised for selling Banksy’s Slave Labour for £750,000 after it had been stolen from the wall of a Poundland in Wood Green in 2013. In response to the claims of illegality and fraudulence Sincura’s Tony Baxter issued a statement: “We welcome the opportunity to display this controversial work […]and are proud that our event will be the first and only time that it will be shown in the United Kingdom before being returned to the United States.”
It’s no secret that Banksy is has rapidly become big business, what remains however will be to see if Banksy will continue to produce street art when plastic companies like The Sincura Group are able to so freely take advantage for monetary gain.