Banksy Statue ‘Stolen’ Twice Since 2004 Could Sell For $1.3 Million At Auction

A "stolen" Banksy statue, The Drinker based on The Thinker, and will be auctioned off by Sotheby's where the sculpture is estimated to sell for $1.3 million.

iStockphoto / SERCAN ERTÜRK

If you’re looking for a beautiful decoration ornament for the foyer in your home, may I suggest buying this Banksy statue? The Banksy sculpture named The Drinker was allegedly “stolen” and is on sale at an auction.

Graffiti artist Banksy created a statue named “The Drinker” based on Auguste Rodin’s iconic sculpture The Thinker. The Drinker is a seemingly drunk man slumped from intoxication, and he is wearing a traffic cone on his head. Banksy placed the statue in a small square off Shaftesbury Avenue in central London in 2004.

The Drinker was stolen by self-proclaimed “art terrorist” Andy Link AKA AK47 from Britain. Link assembled a team called “Art Kieda” to pull off a heist of The Drinker in 2004, which was documented in the film The Banksy Job.

The 12-foot-tall statue was allegedly taken from Link’s backyard in 2007 and is now available for sale at a Sotheby’s auction. Link said, “I thought I was the owner, nobody else put in a claim for it.” But Sotheby’s officials refute Link’s claim, “It’s like crying that the bigger boys have stolen his ball.”

Former Banksy dealer Steve Lazarides has a forthcoming book, Banksy Captured, where he reveals how livid Banksy was that Link stole The Drinker and demanded a ransom. “Tell him I’ll give him enough money for petrol and matches, and he can f*cking burn it for all I care,” Banksy said to Link, according to Lazarides.

The ransom letter from Link was sent to Lazarides, and it was “the kind you see in the movies with letters cut out of magazines and newspapers.” The kidnappers proved they had the sculpture by cutting off the ear and shipping it with the ransom letter. Banksy offered $2 for his own artwork, which was not accepted.

Months after the letter, people found The Drinker “in a backyard in the east end of London” and informed Lazarides. A rescue team waited for Link to leave his house and they “liberated” The Drinker, but left the painted traffic cone. The Sotheby’s auction is the first time he has heard about The Drinker in about 12 years.

Lazarides has described The Drinker as “a fucking monstrosity, and the worst sculpture he ever made.”

Sotheby’s says it is “satisfied that the seller has a legal right to put the piece up for auction,” according to The Art Newspaper. The famous auction house consulted the Metropolitan Police to ensure that there were no active criminal investigations on the artwork.

Link disagrees and said he doesn’t understand how Sotheby’s could sell the statue “when I have such proof.” Link added that the price of lawyers is stopping him from taking legal action. “Lawyers are asking from $23,000 up just to take the case on, and I’m a struggling artist, just a working-class bloke,” he told the Guardian.

Sotheby’s calls The Drinker “among one of Banksy’s most ambitious sculptural endeavors to date.” The Drinker goes on sale on November 19, where the sculpture is expected to be sold for $1.3 million.