- Title: UNITED KINGDOM: Salvaged Banksy murals previewed ahead of exhibition and sale
- Date: 27th March 2014
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 26, 2014) (REUTERS-ACCESS AL) (SOUNDBITE) (English) TONY BAXTER, DIRECTOR SINCURA GROUP, ON VALUE OF BANKSY ART, SAYING: "You can't put a price on these pieces. These aren't Van Goghs, these aren't Monets. They'll sell for what people are prepared to sell them for. The prices are inflated by people like yourself, by the press talking about these pieces. Don't get me wrong, they are very, he's a fantastic artist. He's thought about a lot of his pieces. They are beautiful pieces. And at the end of the day the market's made by the people willing to pay for them." 'SPERM ALARM' ON DISPLAY WIDE OF RECEPTION WITH 'SPERM ALARM' ON DISPLAY EXTERIOR OF ME HOTEL IN CENTRAL LONDON WITH RED BUS PASSING BY
- Embargoed: 11th April 2014 13:00
- Location: United Kingdom
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts
- Reuters ID: LVA6KMXESJ6OMVNZ3GJI17M95VJH
- Story Text: Two salvaged works by British street artist Banksy were unveiled in London on Wednesday (March 26).
'Sperm Alarm', and '2 Rats' are among some twenty pieces to be put on display in a controversial new exhibition ahead of a live auction sale due to take place at the end of April. Called 'Stealing Banksy?' the exhibition will also feature other iconic wall pieces including 'OldSkool', 'Liverpool Rat', 'Balloon Girl' and 'Silent Majority', most of which are still in the process of being restored.
Another piece, 'No Ball Games', which was cut out of a wall in Tottenham, North London, has just been completed after an eight month long restoration process, which cost an estimated GBP120,000 (USD 199,000).
'Sperm Alarm', which is estimated at GBP 200,000 (USD 332,000), is shown in public for the first time since it was illegally removed from a hotel building in London and put up for sale at an online auction in 2011.
Banksy's '2 Rats', valued at GBP 100,000 (USD 166,000), were painted on a metal door during an arts festival in Berlin in 2003.
Both the exhibition and the sale have been organised by the Sincura Group, the same company which oversaw the controversial removal and sale of another famous Banksy mural, 'Slave Labour', at a Miami auction last year.
The salvaging of the piece caused a public outcry at the time and local campaigners had called for the mural to be returned to its community. However police said that in fact no illegal action had taken place.
Against this backdrop Tony Baxter, a director at Sincura Group directors, hopes the new exhibition will help bring together an informed debate on the removal of street art.
"We were involved with Slave Labour, Banksy's Slave Labour last year and we got called a number of things for doing it. The most common threat was that we go and steal those Banksy's. So we thought we'd play on this, this is the public perception of us and we thought we'd actually have a show to talk about the moral side, to talk about the legal side, to talk about the social side of these Banksy pieces being removed from the walls," Baxter told Reuters Television.
"The long and short of it is this. We don't go round to these walls, we don't go round and entice people to take these off the walls. We've never ever approached a single person to take a Banksy off walls. The building owners come over to us. Now they've never asked for these pieces to be painted on the walls. By having a Banksy on your wall you run the real risk of having a grade two listing put on your building, which deflates your value, which means you can't re-sell your property. You also have a lot of unwanted press surrounding your property. Lots of these people don't want them, they've never asked for these pieces to be put on the walls," he added.
While Baxter acknowledges some concerns about the removal of streetart from their intended place, he argues the company's work does offer the pieces' survival in the long term. Such is the case with Banksy's famous stencil image of a girl with her balloon, he says, which is currently undergoing restoration before being offered as part of the sale for around GBP 500,000 (USD 831,000).
"If we wouldn't have taken it off the wall, it would be gone. If we didn't get involved in this piece in two years time the piece would have disappeared. There're no two ways about it. Yet we did get involved in the piece and yes it is gonna be sold as big game hunting. But what we, what we ensure is that a donation will be made to charity and we ensure that in a hundred times this piece is still alive," he said.
The company says profits from the sale will go to local charities as well as the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund UK in an effort to have the communities from which these artsworks were taken from benefit from it.
According to the organisers, interest in the sale has been great, with one significant offer on one of the pieces already being made. But despite the soaring value of street art, it is not guaranteed that the works will sell well. Two Banksy items at a recent auction sale in Miami in February did not meet the asking price and remained unsold for instance.
While the combined value of all pieces shown in the exhibition is currently estimated at 5 million pounds, Baxter said its real value will only be determined on the day.
"You can't put a price on these pieces. These aren't Van Goghs, these aren't Monets. They'll sell for what people are prepared to sell them for. The prices are inflated by people like yourself, by the press talking about these pieces. Don't get me wrong, they are very, he's a fantastic artist. He's thought about a lot of his pieces. They are beautiful pieces. And at the end of the day the market's made by the people willing to pay for them," he said.
'Stealing Banks?' will run at the ME London Hotel from April 24 with the live auction taking place on April 27.
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