A Banksy Removed From a London Office Block Could Fetch $890,000 at Auction

The work was restored after previous owners painted over it.

Anderson & Garland Director Fred Wyrley-Birch with Holywell Row Happy Helicopters. Image courtesy of Anderson & Garland.

Holywell Row Happy Helicopters by anonymous street art legend Banksy first appeared outside a Shoreditch office building in east London in 2006. Pretty soon, the constant crowds activating the building’s security light proved too much for the owner of the property, who had the artwork covered with black paint and promptly sold the offices.

The new owner was not alerted to the hidden masterpiece. Later on, when he was leafing through Banksy Captured (2020)—a book of Banksy artworks captured by publisher and photographer Steve Lazarides—the sight of Holywell Row Happy Helicopters on the side of his building was unmistakable, and the restoration process began.

Banksy, Holywell Row Happy Helicopters. Image courtesy of Anderson & Garland.

Banksy, Holywell Row Happy Helicopters. Image courtesy of Anderson & Garland.

The vendor, who has chosen to remain anonymous, said: “We were astounded to discover that our office building was the canvas for an artwork of this significance, and what was more, it had been painted over by the previous owner. We wanted to ensure the integrity of the piece so approached restoration specialists to find the best way of preserving it for generations to come. To our knowledge no one had attempted to rescue a fragile work of high-profile street art like this before. As the piece had been painted on render, after several abortive attempts, the decision was made to remove it in sections by specialists.”

The Fine Art Restoration Company worked for over a year to restore the three-inch-thick render, which was a difficult task due partly to the fact that the mural was made from non-traditional art materials.

Banksy, Holywell Row Happy Helicopters. Image courtesy of Anderson & Garland.

Banksy, Holywell Row Happy Helicopters. Image courtesy of Anderson & Garland.

The company’s director, Chris Bull, said that “one of the many difficulties we had was that the work had been sprayed on render and structurally could not be removed in one piece, due to the likely risk of it breaking apart. The decision had to be taken for it to be removed in sections”. The piece was eventually removed in eight sections.

The six-by-four-feet mural features three large Apache attack helicopters (a recurring motif in Banksy’s work) adorned with pink bows, and features the artist’s stencilled signature.

The restored Banksy piece is going under the hammer on March 20 at Anderson & Garland’s Spring Country House & Fine Interiors Auction with an estimated price of £500,000 to £700,000 ($640,000 to $890,000). The Newcastle auctioneers previously sold The Merrivale Stable, another Banksy original, in 2022.

The wood-and fibre-glass sculpture was purchased for over £1 million ($1.26 million) including fees within two minutes of the auction start. Anderson & Garland’s director, Fred Wyrley-Birch, said that the auction house are “expecting interest from around the world. We are hoping that institutions will be interested in this important piece so that enthusiasts of Banksy’s work can enjoy it for years to come.”

Three viewing days will be hosted on March 15, 16, and 18 to give prospective bidders a chance to see the work up-close.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.
Article topics