Controversy Over “Stolen” Paintings Surround Wynwood Art Auction

MIAMI (CBS4) – A bizarre scene is playing out in Miami’s Wynwood Art District this week.

A graffiti covered wall, ripped out off the side of a building is being auctioned off starting at a half a million dollars. The sale is creating quite the controversy not just because of the price tag but some consider it stolen.

The story started in London and a graffiti artist known as Banksy.  The anonymous British artist uses a series of stencils, to paint public places with interesting, often controversial work.  Some of the highlights include a series done on Israel’s West Bank wall or London Guards doing well, business.  Banksy graffiti slash controversy has propelled him in the art world.  Many cities and fans now cherish his work.

Now it’s appearing collectors do as well. Banksy is now appearing in Miami for sale.

“It is worth what you believe it is worth,” Frederic Thut said.

Thut, the owner of Fine Art Auctions, is planning to auction off two Banksy’s originals this weekend.   He even used one of the works for the cover of their auction catalog.

“We love the image. We love the story of the artist,” Thut explained.

The bidding starts at a half million dollars.  The only problem is the artists work is not typically for sale.  You can download his work off his website.

The works up for auction are “Slave Labor” and “Wet Dog” was literally ripped out of the walls of London.

“We don’t get the reaction we were expecting.” Thut said after posting the auction information.

Thut has been fielding a lot emails from Bansy fans, claiming the works were gifts stolen and now being sold for private gain.

“Fine Art Miami is not looking for controversy.  We are looking for the good collector, the good buyer.”  Thut fired back.

Is it legal though?  Thut said it is and the work is on consignment.  He refused to talk on camera about the issue but assured CBS4 he wouldn’t be selling the items if the owner didn’t outright own the works.

Could it really be a publicity stunt? It certainly wouldn’t be a first.  Auction attendees apparently won’t be allowed to see the Banksy pieces because of the controversy.  CBS4’s David Sutta was told the buyer will get to see them up-close before they pay.

How much will it go for?  That remains to be seen.  For more information on the auction go to

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