Most of these artworks remain on buildings and seafronts across Norfolk and Suffolk, in testament to the rising popularity of the street artist. One, however, has become the subject of a heated debate, after a landlord ripped out the wall it was painted on, seemingly intending to sell it at auction.
The artwork in question was painted on a former electrical shop in the coastal town of Lowestoft, Suffolk. In Banksy’s signature black-and-white stencil style, it depicts a child with a crowbar, and was originally accompanied by pried-up paving slabs and a sandcastle, making for a humorous installation.
Video shared earlier this week, however, shows workmen carefully removing the painted wall with heavy machinery. While it’s not 100 per cent clear what will happen to the artwork, auctioneers have told the BBC that it is set to go on sale in the US. Julien’s Auctions in California predict that the piece “could fetch between $200,000 to $400,000”, but note: “The sky is the limit with the current values of Banksy.”
The value of the “Great British Spraycation” artwork was already evident, as the former electrical shop it adorned — which had previously been up for sale at £300,000 — skyrocketed in value, up to £500,000. This isn’t the first time that a Banksy artwork has added a six-figure sum to an otherwise unremarkable building, either.
“If it’s being removed to be displayed in a more prominent location within the town in an artistic context, then that’s lovely,” says Miles Barry, the chair of local group Easterly Artists, on the artwork’s recent removal (via the New York Post). “If it’s because the owner realized having it in location adds £200,000 to the value of the property but having it for auction… it could possibly fetch a great deal more… It’s a great shame.”
Artist and RCA professor of political art Peter Kennard adds, via Sky News: “It’s the extremities of capitalism. Someone does something for the public, it’s removed to make money… For someone to take it down is disgusting — it’s totally against the ethos of what Banksy is doing.”
Revisit Banksy’s “Great British Spraycation” artworks in the gallery above, and watch footage of the removal in Lowestoft below.
And there it goes! The Banksy of the little girl with a crowbar building a sandcastle on London Rd North in Lowestoft… removed from the side of the old electrical shop.