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Los Angeles mural by graffiti artist Banksy up for auction

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A mural by British graffiti artist Banksy that was painted on a Los Angeles gas station wall will be auctioned off in December and is expected to fetch upwards of $150,000, Julien's Auctions said on Monday.

The mural, entitled "Flower Girl," was painted on the brick wall of a gas station in 2008. Measuring 9 feet by 8 feet, the mural shows the silhouette of a girl looking up at a closed-circuit television camera sprouting from a vine.

It is estimated to fetch between $150,000 and $300,000 as Banksy has become a coveted contemporary artist.

"Banksy is not only provocative, but quite entertaining. It makes it quite fun to offer his art along with so many other great artists of our time," Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions, said in a statement.

"Flower Girl" is the only mural on the block on December 5 in Beverly Hills, California, as part of Julien's Auctions "Street Art" collection. Other works in the lot include canvases and paper pieces by street artists such as Risk, Indie 184 and MearOne.

Banksy is a pseudonym for an elusive British graffiti artist who first emerged in Bristol, England, as part of an underground group of artists. He has become known for his trademark spray-paint stencils that offer social commentary.

He intentionally hides his identity and real name, but verifies his works by featuring them on his website (www.banksy.co.uk). Banksy appeared in the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop" with his face obscured and voice altered.

Since the artwork was painted on private property, the artist is not entitled to any profits from a subsequent sale, said Michael Doyle, the consignments director for Julien's Auctions.

Doyle said the auction house was contacted by the seller, whose identity is being kept confidential. Doyle added that the sale had been cleared by the owner of the gas station, who had the section of the wall displaying the artwork removed.

Earlier this year, two spray-painted murals by Banksy were pulled from an auction in Miami, including one entitled "Slave Labour." Questions arose about the ownership of "Slave Labour" and how the auction house obtained it.

"Slave Labour" eventually sold at a private auction in London for $1.1 million in June.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Stacey Joyce)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130813/los-angeles-mural-graffiti-artist-banksy-auction