Street art is arguably best seen in an urban environment; though some artists, notably Banksy and Phlegm, have created impressive displays in more traditional gallery settings, street art has more of an edge to it when it lurks in alley ways, underpasses and on the sides of unassuming shops and buildings.
However, recently a London-based concierge company, Sincura Group, has been removing street art by the world renowned Banksy and putting it up for auction. In response, Pest Control, Banksy’s own verification board, has refused to authenticate any pieces of art work removed from their original location. What’s more, it isn’t just the artist who has made his disapproval known; the communities the murals once decorated have also called for their return, labelling Sincura as thieves and crooks. Sincura have called their undertaking, somewhat provocatively, “Stealing Banksy?”
In the face of mounting pressure from campaign groups and even local MPs, Director of the Sincura Group Tony Baxter released a statement arguing the company’s case. He said, “Firstly it should be noted that the Sincura Group do not steal art nor do we condone any acts of wanted vandalism or theft. We do not own the pieces of art, have never approached anyone to remove any artwork or encourage its removal. To date, we have made no financial gain from the sale of street art.”
In addition, he was quick to point out that Sincura are asked by third parties to remove the pieces. “The Sincura Group are approached by building owners to remove the artwork illegally painted on their sites,” he continued. “ The building owners have not asked for the art to be placed on their premises or for the on-going attention received from it. What’s more, they run the very real risk of having a grade 2 listing applied to their premises which seriously affects their business operations and resale value. Though loved by the public these are often a hindrance to the building owners.”
In addition, he went on to say that the pieces are restored and that by removing them they “ensure
the longevity of the artworks and that they will remain alive forever.”
Regardless of the firm’s intentions, the removal of these pieces has, without doubt, left a bitter taste in the mouths of many.
The “recovered” pieces of artwork are set to be displayed at the ME Hotel in London from April 24th to the 27th, culminating in an auction with all profits going to local charities. Though none will deny that helping charities is a positive thing, many will still miss the murals that decorated the areas they call home.
Clearly, this is a divisive issue when it comes to the street art scene. If you have an interest in street art and want to see a rare side of London then join us on one of our street art London tours. Our informed and enthusiastic tour guides will show you some of the famous and less famous pieces that have appeared on the streets of London.