A disputed Banksy graffiti artwork removed from a gritty London neighbourhood has sold for approximately $1.1 million US at auction.

The provocative Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) sold at a private auction held by concierge firm The Sincura Group at the London Film Museum on Sunday, according to Bloomberg news service.

The spray-painted, stenciled work depicts a child labourer using an antique sewing machine to create a Union Jack bunting.

The graffiti piece appeared on an outer wall of a thrift shop in London's Wood Green district in May 2012, around the time of the celebrations surrounding Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. Viewed as a commentary on sweatshop labour, the work drew crowds of onlookers and art-lovers to the gritty Turnpike Lane area.

The artwork garnered widespread attention in February after reports that it had vanished — apparently chiselled off the thrift shop's exterior wall, which was then plastered over. When it turned up for auction in Miami, a vocal campaign calling for the return of Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) to its original site led to the piece being withdrawn from auction.

However, the owners of the building — the legal owners of the artwork — decided to try again, despite continued objections from British politicians and street-art fans that it be returned to the site where it was created to be enjoyed by the public.