Local politicians have appealed to the Arts Council for help getting back the Banksy which was removed from a Poundland store in north London, and is due to be auctioned in the US for up to £450,000.
The artwork, named "Slave Labour", was on the wall of the Turnpike Lane store in north London - but workmen removed it at the end of last week, plastering it over.
Councillor Alan Strickland said he had been in contact with the owners, Wood Green Investments, but had had no confirmation as to whether the artwork was removed with their consent.
The original artwork on the wall outside Wood Green Poundland
He said in a statement: "This is an area that was rocked by riots less than a year before this mural was painted, and for many in the community the painting has become a real symbol of local pride.
"I've written to the Arts Council to ask them to explore whether this art work is being exported appropriately.
"We're asking the Arts Council to intervene because we believe that the strong local and national significance of the mural mean it is wrong to export it.
"We're determined to do what we can to bring back Banksy to Haringey."
In Councillor Strickland's letter, posted on the 'Bring Back Banksy' Facebook group, to the Arts Council's chair Sir Peter Bazalgette, he asked them to "urgently explore the legality of the artwork's removal from the UK and use whatever powers it has to prevent it being sold. whether through the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, or other means."
The Arts Council told HuffPost UK that the Export Committee would not cover the work because it was less than 50 years old. A spokeswoman said they would respond to Councillor Strickland's letter, adding: "It is a shame that a piece of street art that is well loved by the local community has been removed for auction. We understand that the appropriate authority, Haringey Council, is currently investigating how the removal occurred.”
Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone has vowed to investigate the graffiti's removal and Haringey Council has written to the Arts Council saying it wants to bring back the piece of street art.
It has appeared on the US-based Fine Art Auctions Miami site, with a starting bid of £250,000 but a guide price of £320,000 - £450,000.
The mural, which depicts a small child hunched over a sewing machine, making jubilee bunting, is due to go under the hammer on Saturday.
Poundland denied they had anything to do with the removal of the Banksy, and said they were investigating, but had been unable to reach the landlord of the building.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Featherstone told HuffPost UK she was stepping up her investigations, and said she had also written to the owners of Wood Green Investments.
The hole where the Banksy has been removed
Featherstone said she had contacted the auctioneers, Fine Art Auctions Miami, "to ask that the artwork be withdrawn from auction pending further investigation."
She continued: "The auction house has confirmed that a well known collector brought the piece to them, and said they see nothing untoward about how the piece ended up with them. I am now focussing my attention on the building owners, and the identity of the collector.
“It is totally unethical that something so valued should be torn without warning from its community context.
“I will continue doing all I can to investigate, with the hope that our Banksy piece might be returned to its rightful home.”
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