Artist pays £561,000 to destroy Banksy mural – and wishes he’d paid more

An artist has paid more than half a million pounds for a Banksy mural – just so he can destroy it.

Ron English bought ‘Slave Labour’, which depicts a child kneeling at a sewing machine producing a string of Union Jack bunting, for $730,000 (£561,000).

But, rather than display it proudly, the American artist plans to paint over the mural in protest – because street art “shouldn’t be bought and sold”.

The painting appeared on the side of a Poundland shop wall in Wood Green in 2012.

It is believed to be a protest against sweatshops used to manufacture souvenirs for the London Olympics.

Slave Labour was auctioned in Los Angeles on Wednesday and artist Ron 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.

“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."

Mr English, who said he had spent time in Palestine with Banksy, added: "Then of course I’ll sell the the whitewash painting for a million dollars. I’m crazy but I’m not stupid."


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

In 2013, Slave Labour was removed from the north London wall and put up for sale in the US. After an appeal it was returned to the UK and sold at auction in Covent Garden.

Meanwhile in October, a Banksy piece sold in London partially shredded itself after the hammer came down.

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Girl With Balloon, one of the mysterious artist’s most famous works, sold for £1.04 million before the canvas passed through a shredder installed in the frame.

The buyer later confirmed they were going through with the sale.

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