Ron English Will Whitewash the $730,000 Banksy Mural He Just Bought to Protest the Removal of Street Art

The artist says he plans to resell the whitewashed piece for $1 million.

American artist Ron English poses with the Banksy work he plans to whitewash. Photo: Barbara Davidson/Getty Images.

American artist Ron English plans to whitewash a Banksy work he bought for $730,000 to protest the commercialization of street art.

English was the winning bidder of Banksy’s Slave Labour (2012) at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The work was removed from the side of a London discount store—a practice Banksy has long decried. It depicts a young child on his knees sewing a string of Union Jack flags and is thought to be a denunciation of the use of sweat shop labor to create memorabilia for the 2012 London Olympics.

“My idea for this painting is to whitewash it for my good pal Banksy, I only wish I could’ve spent more money for it,” English told the Press Association. “I am going to paint it white again, I’m done. This is a blow for street art. It shouldn’t be bought and sold.”

English vowed to continue buying and whitewashing street works so long as profiteers remove them from the public eye. “I’m going to paint over it and just include it in one of the walls in my house. We’re tired of people stealing our stuff off the streets and re-selling it so I’m just going to buy everything I can get my hands on and whitewash it.”

English added that he will try to sell the overpainted work for $1 million. “I’m crazy, but not stupid,” he said.

The plan to resell the overpainted work at a premium resembles Banksy’s own stunt in October when orchestrated the shredding of his own painting just after it was hammered down for $1.2 million at Sotheby’s London.

Afterward, many art market observers predicted that the shredded painting amounted to a new work of art that could be worth more than the intact original should it come up for auction again.


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