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Banksy's 'Flower Girl' headed for L.A. auction

August 14, 2013|By Jamie Wetherbe
  • Banksy's "Flower Girl" will go up for auction Dec. 5.
Banksy's "Flower Girl" will go up for auction Dec. 5. (Julien's Auctions )

This post has been corrected. See details below.

A Banksy mural that adorned a wall of a Los Angeles gas station is headed for auction.

Julien’s Auctions announced Tuesday that "Flower Girl" would headline the company's “Street Art” auction Dec. 5 in Beverly Hills and that it was expected to fetch as much as $300,000.

The piece juxtaposes a silhouette of a girl toting a basket of flowers with a security camera blossoming atop a plant from above.

ART: Can you guess the high price?

The mural was created late one night in 2008 after the owner of a Valero gas station (which has since become a Chevron) was approached by a friend, filmmaker and street artist Mr. Brainwash, who asked whether the unidentified artist standing beside him could tag the business’ wall.

The owner agreed, and the mural later popped up on Banksy’s website.

"The surveillance cameras went black inside the gas station, [the owner is] still completely clueless as to how [Banksy] would pull that off,” said Michael Doyle, Julien's Auctions consignment director. "I don’t know what kind of magic he has up his sleeve, but he obviously knows what he’s doing."

Nine months ago, the gas station owner sawed the piece out of the brick wall and moved the mural, which weighs somewhere between 5,000 and 7,500 pounds, using a high-powered forklift flatbed truck, Doyle said.

ART: Can you guess the high price?

The seller, whose identity is being kept confidential (though it is believed to be the gas station owner) approached the auction house, which specializes in selling pop culture memorabilia, Doyle said.

As Banksy’s popularity grows -- in part fueled by the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” poking fun at street art and featuring Banksy and Mr. Brainwash  -- his murals are moving from walls to the auction block.

Banksy's "Slave Labour,” which was ripped from a British discount store, earlier this year was pulled from a Miami auction, following protests from street art fans and Londoners.

In June, the building’s owners sold the piece for $1.1 million at a private auction in London.

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Banksy's "No Ball Games" went missing from a north London convenience store and in July resurfaced on the website of the Sincura Group, the London-based concierge service that also sold "Slave Labour.”

According to the website, profits from the mural's sale planned for some time next year will benefit London's Step by Step, an organization that works with disabled children.

Banksy has said he believes his art should remain in its intended location -- on the street.

For the Record, 12:45 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the auction of "Flower Girl" would be the first time an original Banksy has been offered at auction in America. A Banksy canvas titled "Gangsta Rat" was offered at a Bonhams auction in October 2012.

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Jamie Wetherbe

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