Red Balloon Girl

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One of Banksy’s iconic “Girl with red the balloon” murals, which has been on Liverpool Street, London for well over a decade, has been removed by the controversial Sincura Group. Arguably one of the most recognisable Banksy pieces, the mural was only created in a few select London locations including the stairwell of the South Bank, Blackfriars Bridge and on Great Eastern Street, close to Liverpool Street station.

The proprietor of the printing shop that played host to the artwork said that he had not seen it in years, as it had been obscured by advertising boards. Talking to the BBC he said, “I’ve seen pictures of what this building was like with it on about 15 years ago. Everybody’s curious.”  The piece is thought to be worth somewhere in the region of £300,000.

Work to remove the “girl with the red balloon” was completed on Sunday, February 9th 2014. The Sincura Group reportedly used specialist equipment from the U.S, with the entire procedure costing around £40,000. The international concierge company has been causing stirs in the street art world with its most recent undertaking, provocatively named “Stealing Banksy?”

A number of pieces of street art by the renowned artist have been removed from their original locations, with Sincura stating that they are being “sensitively restored”. One of the most divisive and reported acts of “restoration” took place last year, when Banksy’s “Slave Labour” piece, which had appeared on the side of a pound shop in Wood Green during the Jubilee, was quite literally hacked off the wall and later appeared under mysterious circumstances at an auction in Miami. Despite the fact that Banksy’s own authentication board, Pest Control, have said that they will not recognise or authenticate any art removed from its original setting, the mural was tipped to make circa £450,000. Following public outcry, the auction was cancelled.

However, in September 2013, the painting was supposedly sold in a private auction for around £750,000. Tony Baxter, Director of the Sincura Group, said that he would not disclose the identity of the buyer, but stated that the piece had been sold legally.

As part of the afore mentioned “Stealing Banksy?” project, 7 recovered pieces of art work are going to be displayed, then auctioned over the course of 4 days kicking off from April 24th 2014. Other pieces include the famous “No Ball Games” and “Old Skool.”

So, are Sincura stealing what is essentially public property, beloved by those who live in these areas or are they restoring and maintaining precious pieces of art work for future generations? No matter how you spin it though, the “Stealing Banksy?” project is, for good or ill, making waves in the street art scene.

For those with a keen interest in street art and the culture surrounding it, then come along on one of our Street Art London Tours and see a side of the capital that only a few get a chance to appreciate.