Banksy's Missing Mural Set To Make A Mint

A Banksy mural that was removed from the side of a Poundland shop under mysterious circumstances is expected to sell for up to £460,000 at auction.

Slave Labour, which shows a young boy hunched over a sewing machine making Union Flag bunting, appeared on the wall in Wood Green, north London, last May, just before the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

But the mural by arguably the world's most famous graffiti artist disappeared last weekend and is now being sold thousands of miles away in Miami, despite pleas from Wood Green residents who are upset by its disappearance.

Fine Art Auctions (FAA) featured the artwork on the front page of its website ahead of its Modern, Contemporary And Street Art sale.

The auction house expects Slave Labour to reach between \$500,000 (£328,063) and \$700,000 (£459,288).

A rat holding up a sign saying "Why?" has been stencilled next to the empty space where the mural stood, with some speculating it could be another work by Banksy.

The disappearance of the Banksy graffiti prompted Haringey Council to launch a campaign to bring it back to the UK.

The council has called on the Arts Council and Culture Secretary Maria Miller to intervene. So far however, they have not succeeded in halting the US auction.

Councillor Alan Strickland said: "The community feels that this artwork was given to it for free, and that it should be kept in Haringey where it belongs, not sold for a fast buck.

"This is an area that was rocked by riots less than a year before this mural was painted, and for many in the community the painting has become a real symbol of local pride."

The council is investigating how the removal of the mural occurred, but a Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "There have been no reports of any theft.

"It appears there has been a decision by someone to remove it for sale - there is no suggestion of any crime being committed."

A solicitor for property firm Wood Green Investments, which owns the Poundland site where the Banksy was painted, told the Financial Times: "If they deny removing the mural they will become embroiled in an international criminal investigation that has already involved the FBI.

"But if they admit to consenting to (its removal) then they will become the target of abuse. As a consequence, the advice to my client has been to say nothing."