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Banksy work auctioned for US$575,000

NEW YORK--One of three works by the elusive British street artist Banksy has sold at a Miami auction for US$575,000.

An anonymous buyer purchased “Kissing Coppers,” spray-painted in 2005 on the Prince Albert Pub in Brighton, England, at the Fine Art Auctions Miami on Tuesday night. The piece was expected to sell anywhere from US$500,000 to US$700,000.

The two other works, “Bandaged Heart” and “Crazy Horse Car Door,” went unsold because they didn't receive their minimum bids, said Ashley Jimenez, a spokeswoman for Fine Art Auctions Miami. She said interested buyers can still contact the auction house within 30 days.

New York City art dealer Stephan Keszler, the owner of all three Banksy works that went to auction, said he was happy with the selling price for “Kissing Coppers” and encouraged by the offers the others received.

“Kissing Coppers,” a black-and-white stencil of two uniformed English “bobbies” (police officers) in a passionate clinch, reportedly was lifted and transferred to a canvas before the pub sold it to Keszler.

“Bandaged Heart,” which was spray-painted on the side of a Brooklyn warehouse, was removed by a team of specialists shortly after it was completed during Banksy's self-proclaimed New York City residency in the fall, Keszler said.

“Bandaged Heart,” an image of a heart-shaped balloon covered in Band-Aids, had a pre-sale estimate of US$400,000 to US$600,000. Soon after it went up, the work was immediately “tagged” by another graffiti artist. It's believed Banksy then added the words “is a jealous little” afterward.

“Crazy Horse Car Door,” also created during Banksy's New York residency, was estimated to bring US$200,000 to US$300,000. It is a rear door of a Manhattan car spray-painted with a scene depicting a struggling, Herculean figure surrounded by running horses.

In the last three years, Keszler said, he has sold 11 original works by the street artist, including “Banksy Slave Labor (Bunting Boy),” which sold for US$1.1 million in London to a U.S. collector.

Banksy, who refuses to reveal his full identity, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England.

Asked if he worries about selling art by someone whose identity remains a mystery, Keszler joked: “He knows who we are.”

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This undated photo provided by Keszler Gallery in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 18, shows “Kissing Coppers,” a black-and-white stencil of two uniformed English “bobbies” (police ...

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