Link, also known by the moniker AK47, told CNN that the statue had been “abandoned and dumped” by Banksy.
Banksy’s “The Drinker” is a “subversive recreation” of “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin. Credit: Chesnot/Getty Images
“I did it as a bit of a stunt, a bit of a prank,” Link said in a phone interview, adding that he made efforts to return the statue to the artist, and had contacted the police to see if it had been reported as lost or stolen.
The statue remained unclaimed, and so Link said he kept it until 2007, when it was taken from his garden. Link said he reported the theft to police, and registered the loss on an art theft registry.
“We are satisfied that the consignor has the right to sell the work and as part of our pre-sale due diligence we consulted both the Metropolitan Police and the Art Loss Register,” the auction house told CNN in a statement.
A look at some of the recent work of the famously anonymous British graffiti artist Banksy. Banksy’s “Love is in the Bin” is unveiled on October 12, 2018, at Sotheby’s in London. Originally titled “Girl with Balloon,” the canvas passed through a hidden shredder seconds after the hammer fell on October 5 at Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening Sale, making it the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction. Credit: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s
But Link argues that the statue still belongs to him, and claims he has original police documents proving his ownership.
The artist said he has made Sotheby’s aware that the ownership of the art is contested.
London’s Metropolitan police told CNN on Sunday there is no active criminal investigation into the matter.
CNN has reached out to representatives for Banksy for comment.