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Stolen Graffiti Art Taken Out Of Miami Auction

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A controversial painting by British artist "Banksy" will go up for auction in Miami. Critics say the piece was stolen. (CBS4)

A controversial painting by British artist “Banksy” will go up for auction in Miami. Critics say the piece was stolen. (CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A pair of possibly stolen Banksy murals didn’t let a South Florida auction house cash in as both were pulled from an auction at the last minute on Saturday.

Banksy is a internationally known graffiti artist whose identity remains anonymous. His graffiti though, is no secret to the public. Banksy’s artworks can be viewed from places around the world and are recognized as public treasures.

One of Banksy’s works called “Slave Labour” shows a young boy kneeling in front of an antique sewing machine making Union Jack Bunting for Queen Elizabeth to decorate her Diamond Jubilee. The painting appeared on the wall of a bargain store in the North London borough of Haringey last May.

After a painting pillager ripped “Slave Labour” off of the wall, the artwork reappeared at the Fine Art Auctions in Miami along with Banksy’s other art “Wet Dog.”

Both rediscovered murals have an estimated selling price of $700,000.

Art lovers of South Florida gathered at the auction and hoped to see the paintings.

“I sat through the whole thing just waiting, and I thought, ‘Oh they are just saving the best for last,’” said art lover Stephanie Turk.

But Turk and the others later found out that the two works of art were no longer up for auction.

“I know it was a legal auction but perhaps there were some other issues,” said Turk.

The auction company denied there was any impropriety, but released a statement saying, in part, “There are no legal issues whatsoever regarding the sale.”

Back in London, the people are furious and moved to protest the mural’s removal from a public place to be put up for private sale.

“This is street art for us,” Lloyd Philp, a Haringey resident said. “It raises some fundamental points about whose responsible for street art and who morally owns it.”

This seems to be the case with all of Banksy’s murals; whether someone owns the mystery man’s art is a question raised after Banksy leaves his mark on public territory.

“It’s the same as if someone would go down to the Freedom Tower and take a corner off and try to sell it as an architectural sale, you just can’t do that,” said art collector Jeff Gelblum.

The people of Haringey just want the artwork put back.

“I’d like it to come back, today or tomorrow. It’d be lovely to see our picture back again,” said local resident Maria Vaccaro. “It’s for us, the whole community.”

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