A Banksy mural painted at a gas station near Hancock Park will go up for auction in winter, Julien's Auctions of Beverly Hills announced this week.
The piece, titled “Flower Girl,” was painted in 2008. Julien's notes in a statement that a Banksy piece titled “Slave Labor” recently sold at auction for … $1.1 million:
Banksy set L.A. abuzz in 2011 when his work started popping up around town in advance of the Academy Awards, at which his documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop was up for an Oscar (it lost).
But the genesis of “Flower Girl” goes further back, to a time when Angelenos didn't seem to know who Banksy was. It went up at a gas station at Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, the auction house's consignment director, Michael Doyle, told the Weekly.
It all started when street artist and L.A. Weekly cover star Mr. Brainwash went to the station's owner, a friend, and asked if an unnamed associate could bomb a wall, Doyle said.
Surprisingly, the station's owner said yes to the 4 a.m. art session, he said, confirming details of a New York Times piece on the artwork.
Interestingly, station owner Eytan Rosenberg told the paper that when he checked security video there was no footage of the artist painting a girl who appears to peer into the lens of a surveillance camera.
Fast forward to 2012: Rosenberg sold off the station as a Chevron franchise with the caveat that he would get to keep the artwork, now known to be a genuine Banksy.
Rosenberg said it cost him $80,000 to remove the mural from what appears to be a brick wall. Doyle:
The gas station owner has been a construction contractor all his life. He arranged to have it sawed out of the wall. There were certain elements of support that allowed this. It was almost free-standing on a few support beams. It was encased in metal on-site.
Probably worth it. Julien's estimates the piece is worth $150,000 to $300,000. Doyle says it could be worth more, but that the auction house likes to be conservative in its estimates.
He points to the $1.1 million piece: It's 2 by 3 feet. This one is 9 by 8 feet. And it's a genuine Banksy, who has these accolades, according to a statement from Julien's:
Time magazine selected the British graffiti master, painter and activist as one of the world's most influential people in 2010, among people such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga and others. Although his art commands hundreds of thousands of dollars, his identity remains concealed. His world-famous street art can be found on facades from Great Britain to Israel's West Bank to the streets of Los Angeles. The majority of works by this controversial artist reflect his criticism of the government, presenting strong themes concerning surveillance and the government's role in modern society.
“Flower Girl” will be auctioned off alongside art from Shepard Fairey, RISK, MearOne, Cope2, Indie 184, Miner I and Chaze as part of its “Street Art” auction and exhibition Dec. 5, the auction house says.
Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions:
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, proving once again that Julien's Auctions is the world's best pop art auction house in the world.
Whoever gets the Banksy better have a forklift. With its metal casing included, it weighs 7,500 pounds, Doyle told us.