Written by Amy Woodyatt, CNNLondon

A British artist is contesting the sale of a “stolen” Banksy statue, which could sell at auction for £1m.
Banksy’s “The Drinker” is described by auction house Sotheby’s as a “subversive recreation” of Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” — a pensive nude bronze sculpture.
Adorned with a traffic cone as a hat, “The Drinker” — made of industrial materials — was originally erected near Shaftesbury Avenue in 2004, before it was “stolen” by artist Andy Link, the leader of the art group Art Keida, according to Sotheby’s.

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.

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.

The sculpture will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday. It is expected to fetch between £750,000 and £1 million ($970,000 to $1.3 million).
According to Sotheby’s, the work was “mysteriously retrieved” from Art Kieda in an “anonymous heist,” and was later acquired by its present owner in 2014.

“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.

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.

The feud between the two artists made headlines and in 2016, the film “The Banksy Job,” followed how the saga of the sculpture unfolded.

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.

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