The passionate, international campaign to save beloved north London Banksy mural appears to have won a battle to stop the piece being auctioned in Miami.
The graffiti, 'Slave Labour' was removed from the side of a Poundland store in Wood Green, north London, last weekend, in mysterious circumstances. It went under the hammer on Saturday night at a Miami auction house, expected to fetch more than £450,000.
Although three bids were apparently made, it was withdrawn from sale. Councillor Alan Strickland of Haringey Council, who has led the campaign to save the graffiti, said the auction house owner had refused to confirm why it had been withdrawn.
Another Banksy entitled Wet Dog, a 2007 artwork removed from the West Bank, was also removed from sale.
Haringey TUC Secretary Keith Flett praised the council's efforts to get the art back. He told HuffPost UK: "This is an all too rare victory for the people of Haringey and the Council deserve credit.
"We now need to get the Banksy back from America and restored to its rightful place in the Borough."
Haringey Council Leader Claire Kober said: "It's a true credit to the community that their campaigning appears to have helped to stop the sale of this artwork from going ahead.
"We will continue to explore all options to bring back Banksy to the community where it belongs."
The 'Slave Labour' stencil by the famed, secretive graffiti artist of a young boy sewing Union Jack bunting on an antique sewing machine appeared on the side of a north London bargain store
Slave Labour, which shows a young boy hunched over a sewing machine making Union Jack bunting, appeared on
the wall in Wood Green, north London, last May, just before the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Fine Art Auctions featured the art work on the front page of their website ahead of their Modern, Contemporary and Street Art sale at noon local time.
Earlier, FAA owner Frederic Thut said he had received hundreds of angry phone calls but that the sale was legally, the owner was not British and had sold the piece in order to conserve it. "It's been said that the artwork was stolen, and that is just not true," he told the Guardian, prior to the auction.
A new stenciled rat appears on the side of Poundland on Whymark Avenue beside where the old Banksy artwork has been removed
"We take a lot of care with our consignors, who they are, what they do, and if there's any illegality we will not touch it. Everything is checked out 150%."
A solicitor for property firm Wood Green Investments, which owns the Poundland site where the Banksy was painted, told the Financial Times: "If they deny removing the mural they will become embroiled in an international criminal investigation that has already involved the FBI, but if they admit to consenting to (its removal) then they will become the target of abuse.
"As a consequence, the advice to my client has been to say nothing."