Artist buys Banksy artwork for £561,000 and vows to whitewash it

An artist has said he will whitewash the Banksy artwork he paid $730,000 (£561,000) for at auction in protest at street art being bought and sold.

Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) was originally painted on the side of a Poundland shop in Wood Green, north London in 2012, but was removed soon after.

American street artist Ron English painting one of his own creations. Credit: PA

After securing the highest bid at Julien's Auctions in Los Angeles on Wednesday, American artist Ron English revealed he would be painting over it in white for "his good pal, Banksy".

But he added he plans to sell the whitewashed painting at a profit.

The mural, which depicts a young child on his knees at a sewing machine making Union Jack bunting, was painted as a protest against sweatshops being used to manufacture souvenirs of the London Olympics.

Girl With Balloon was shredded after being sold for more than £1 million. Credit: AP

Mr English said: "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.

"I'm going to paint it white again, I'm done. This is a blow for street art. It shouldn't be bought and sold.

"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."

Mr English, who said he had spent time in Palestine with Banksy, added: "Then off course I'll sell the whitewash painting for a million dollars. I'm crazy but I'm not stupid."

The wall on the side of Poundland where the mural was originally painted. Credit: PA

In October, a Banksy piece sold in London partially shredded itself after the hammer came down.

Girl With Balloon, one of the mysterious artist's most famous works, sold for £1.04 million before the canvas passed through a shredder installed in the frame.

The buyer later confirmed they were going through with the sale.