Auction house withdraws artwork by pop star turned Islington street artist Bambi – but vows to relist it in August

Lenny Villa, Bambi's agent. Picture by Tony Gay.

Lenny Villa, Bambi's agent. Picture by Tony Gay. - Credit: Archant

Pop star turned street artist – dubbed the “female Banksy” – has found herself in a heated row with an auction house after it threatened to sell a piece of graffiti said to be created by her.

The street piece signed by Bambi in St Philip's Way, Islington

The street piece signed by Bambi in St Philip's Way, Islington - Credit: Archant

Bambi, who keeps her real identity a closely guarded secret – other than to admit that she is in fact also a well-known singer – was “beside herself” when a piece of artwork was listed for auction on Tuesday.

The work, which appeared overnight on a garden door in St Philip’s Way, Islington, in 2011, depicts a crying baby sitting underneath the slogan, “Top Fashion Accessory 2011”.

The property’s owners, builders Shaun Turner, 34, and Ross Field, 30, took down the door some time ago because of an endless stream of people photographing, enquiring about and even trying to steal the image.

It was recently listed with Roseberys Auctioneers in West Norwood on Tuesday, where it was expected to fetch at least £1,000 to £1,500.

But Bambi – who has had private commissions from stars such as model Kate Moss, actor Brad Pitt and singers Robbie Williams, Mark Owen, Rihanna and Adele – was upset that the public artwork was being sold for private profit.

She even released a new version of the image with the caption, “Bambi’s baby kidnapped by auction house”.

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Bambi, who people have suggested could be Paloma Faith, Geri Halliwell or MIA, said: “I am very disappointed and upset that this street piece allegedly by me should now come up for auction.

“A street piece is meant to be for all to enjoy. It’s not meant to be used for profit sales unless, with my permission, the profit goes to one of my favourite charities – Dimbleby Cancer Care or Great Ormond Street Hospital.”

The image ended up being withdrawn from sale at the 11th hour – but only because the sellers’ agent felt that, in the light of Bambi’s comments, the piece could be worth even more than originally thought.

Michael MacDonald, co-founder of valuation and selling service Antique Vault, who is acting for Mr Turner and Mr Field, said he hoped to relist the piece in the autumn and that a famous woman in the media world had expressed an interest in buying it

He said: “The fact that the artist has released that second piece will strengthen our piece at auction.”

Bambi splits her time between her home near Liverpool Road, Islington, Los Angeles and the south of France. Last year, her framed portrait of the Queen – entitled “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” – was sold in aid of Dimbleby Cancer Care, raising £11,250.

“If you knew who she was, you would probably fall on the floor,” said her manager Lenny Villa, who runs Villa Framing in Caledonian Road, Islington. He said he was “flummoxed” by the news that the St Philip’s Way piece could still end up being sold.