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“Stolen” Banksy sculpture expected to sell for £1m after reappearing at auction house

An art war is underway

A “stolen” artwork first left by Banksy in central London is expected to fetch up to £1m at auction, despite an ongoing feud over the rightful ownership of the piece.

Banksy’s The Drinker was first installed in a small square near London’s Shaftesbury Avenue in March 2004, before artist Andy Link aka AK47 took the statue home.

The statue, a satirical take on Rodin’s The Thinker, then disappeared from Mr Link’s homes some three years later.

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Twelve years on, The Drinker has resurfaced and is now set to go under the hammer this Tuesday (November 19) at Sotheby’s art agency, although the identity of the current owner remains a mystery.

Mr Link is also contesting the sale of the sculpture and says he retains rightful ownership to the artwork.

“I did the right thing, and reported it to the police,” Mr Link told The Guardian. “I do not understand how Sotheby’s can sell this when I have such proof.”

For their part, Sothebys say that are satisfied that the seller has the legal right to put the artwork up for auction. “We consulted both the Metropolitan Police and the Art Loss Register,” they said.

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Last month, Banksy launched his very own online store, selling iconic items from as little as £10.

The haul included the stab vest Stormzy wore for his headline slot at this year’s Glastonbury festival, an Ultra HD TV, mugs, cushions and his Tony The Tiger rug.

Many of the products advertised featured at a recent art installation in Croydon, which has now closed even though it never officially opened.

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