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FINE PRINT

The Dilemma of "Illegal" Art

On January 20, Sotheby's Hong Kong sold at auction an exact replica of a work by the French street artist known as Invader. Entitled Alias HK_58 (2014), the two-meter-wide ceramic-tile mosaic depicts cartoon character Hong Kong Phooey from a popular American animated series. It was originally installed by Invader on an exterior wall in Hong Kong's Happy Valley neighborhood and later removed by local government authorities on unspecified "safety grounds." The final price paid? HKD 1.96 million.

Alias HK_58 is not the first notable work of art to be whitewashed…

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