Community Mural in Gdansk Taken by British Art Dealer

A mural commissioned by the Laznia Center for Contemporary Art in Gdansk and created by street artist Stik in collaboration with a number of young people from the city, has been taken by art dealer and BBC reality television star Andrew Lamberty, cut into pieces, and made available for purchase in his London gallery, writes Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper. According to Lamberty, he bought the mural, painted on a pair of shipping containers (one solely created by Stik, the other with his collaborators), “entirely legally, with full documentation,” through an agent in Poland. “[The Polish agent] informed me the site of the containers was eventually due for development, [and] that there was nowhere for them to go,” he said. The Laznia Center and Stik say they never authorized the deal, and are demanding that the mural be returned.

The project, titled Skomplikowane (It’s Complicated), 2011, was financially supported by the British Council and local nonprofit arts organizations. Lamberty took the pieces from the Laznia Center in 2014. The dealer, who claims to own more than ten works by Stik—some of which include parts of the mural—are for sale in his gallery at nearly $23,000 apiece. Lamberty says he’ll happily return the collaborative works, in addition to “two or three of the vignettes from the other container,” if the Polish authorities can “find a suitable place to exhibit them.”

Lamberty, however, is willing to go through with his offer only if Stik authenticates the remaining pieces from the mural. The artist refuses to do this “on moral and legal grounds,” as he believes that “this is a community mural and should be returned to the community in its entirety.”

A petition by the artist’s collaborators states that they do not want their efforts to be exploited for profit by Lamberty: “The artwork we made with Stik was about community and being together but it has been cut up. Now it's about splitting community to make money, a sad symbol of today’s world,” they said.