A stencil by guerrilla street artist Banksy which appeared just before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee has disappeared from a wall in North London and is being auctioned in Miami for as much as £450,000.
The mural, painted on the side of a Poundland in Turnpike Lane in May last year, shows a small boy sewing Union Jack bunting and was interpreted as a comment on child labour.
The Poundland where the artwork appeared was the centre of controversy three years ago after it was discovered that a child aged 7 worked over a hundred hours a week in an Indian factory to produce some of the goods on sale.
There has been outcry at the removal of the Banksy mural which had become a tourist attraction in the area.
Councillor Alan Strickland said locals were “angry” and is campaigning for its return to the area.
“Residents have been really shocked and really astonished,” he told the BBC. “Banksy gave that piece of art to our community, and people came from all over London to see it.”
He added that residents were “disappointed” that a “piece of art that was given freely has been taken away from them and sold for an enormous profit”.
Bargain goods chain Poundland has made it clear that it was not responsible for “either selling or removing” the Banksy piece, and that it does not own the building.
Haringey council is attempting to contact the owners of the building to establish if the work was taken legally.
Scaffolding was put up over the building last Wednesday and the piece is believed to have been gone by Saturday.
Fine Art Auctions in Miami is auctioning the work as part of its Modern, Contemporary and Street Art sale.
Banksy’s spokesperson has been contacted for comment but has yet to respond.
A number of works removed from American locations have been sold in Miami in the past year.
Los Angeles work “Out of Bed Rat” and a San Francisco-based rat spray painted onto the side of a purple timber building in the Bay Area in 2010 were among the works on offer as part of the Art Miami fair last year.
Another artwork taken from Britain, a stencil of two kissing policeman which appeared on the side of the Prince Albert pub, Brighton in 2005 was also taken to Miami.
In December Banksy contested the right of a Miami galleries to sell works which had been on pubic walls and signs. The pieces appeared in an exhibition called Banksy Out of CONTEXT organised by gallerist Stephan Keszler.