One of three works by the elusive British street artist Banksy has sold at a Miami auction for $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.
The piece was expected to sell anywhere from $500,000 to $700,000.
Ashley Jimenez, a spokeswoman for the auction house, said the other two pieces - done in New York last year – did not receive their minimum bids but interested buyers can still contact the auction house within 30 days.
The two works that went unsold are Bandaged Heart and Crazy Horse Car Door.
Stephan Keszler is the seller of all three works.
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 autumn, said Mr Keszler, the owner of Keszler Gallery in Manhattan and Southampton who purchased the work.
In an interview yesterday, he said he paid to have the 8ft-by-11ft hole left behind sealed up. He declined to say how much he paid for the 1,500lb chunk of art, other than: “Less than I will sell it for.”
Bandaged Heart is an image of a heart-shaped balloon covered in Band-Aids. Soon after it went up, the work was immediately “tagged” by another graffiti artist. It is believed Banksy then added the words “is a jealous little” afterwards.
Kissing Coppers is a black-and-white stencil of two uniformed English police officers in a passionate clinch. The stencil was reportedly lifted and transferred to a canvas before the pub sold it to Mr Keszler.
Another work created during Banksy’s New York residency, Crazy Horse Car Door, 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, Mr Keszler said, he has sold 11 original works by the street artist, including Banksy Slave Labour (Bunting Boy), which sold for $1.1m in London to a US collector.
Asked if he worries about selling art by someone whose identity remains a mystery, Mr Keszler quipped: “He knows who we are.”
Banksy, who refuses to reveal his full identity, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England.
During his month-long stint in New York in October, Banksy put pictures of his work on his website containing clues on their locations but nothing precise.
That spawned a hunt by fans who tracked down the works, shared locations via social media, then swarmed to see them.
Mr Keszler said he decided to get into selling street art “because no one else is doing it. It’s a very good niche.”