Feb. 17, 2014 9:05 p.m. ET
A portion of a wall from Brooklyn has been shipped to Miami and could fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction Tuesday—all thanks to a graffiti artist whose identity has never been verified.
A woman in October poses with the artwork that could fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. Getty Images
Banksy, the elusive spray-painter, stenciled a red heart-shaped balloon covered in Band-Aids on a wall at the corner of King and Van Brunt streets in Red Hook in October as part of his monthlong New York “residency.”
The aerosol art was accompanied by an audio guide on Banksy’s website, which explained that it was “obviously an iconic representation of the battle to survive a broken heart.”
Property owners are usually incensed when graffiti vandals strike—often choosing to whitewash the markings. But it is different when the graffiti was painted by Banksy.
The Red Hook building’s owner sold the section of the wall to art dealer Stephan Keszler about a week after Banksy’s work appeared—and now it’ll be on the block at Fine Art Auctions Miami’s second annual street-art exhibition. Mr. Keszler declined to say how much he paid for the work.
Sebastien Laboureau, an expert on street art and principal at MoonStar Fine Arts Advisors, said he estimates the red balloon work will fetch between $ 400,000 and $ 600,000.
“Very few of Bansky’s walls have been sold at auction,” said Mr. Laboureau, who has supervised the entire exhibition.
FAAM President Frederic Thut said it was mostly new collectors who were interested in buying street art.
“With Banksy, there’s always a very strong political message; they’re very emblematic of the period,” he said, adding that the “vibe” of street art “is like the pop art generation at the end of the ’70s.”
Mr. Thut said about 2,000 people had come through the exhibition by Monday morning and he has received calls from collectors in France, Germany, Russia and China.
That Banksy’s work was almost immediately painted over by another graffiti artist, Omar NYC, means the piece is more important to the street-art scene because it demonstrates the dialogue between street artists, said Mr. Laboureau.
“Banksy has become so successful now that other artists become jealous,” he said.
“We believe Banksy came back and wrote ‘is a jealous little girl’ under Omar NYC’s tag,” he said, “which makes it even more interesting. The street is open to everybody.”
Mr. Keszler, who has galleries on the Upper East Side and in Southampton and specializes in Banksy pieces, failed to sell the stenciled heart when it was exhibited at his booth at the Art Miami art fair last December.
FAAM, which opened in 2011, is one of the first major auction houses in the world to host an exhibition and auction dedicated to street art. Tuesday’s auction will see 45 pieces from the world’s most recognized street artists go on the block, including two by Banksy.
The other Banksy work, “Kissing Coppers”—a stencil of two English policemen kissing—is expected to fetch between $ 500,000 and $ 700,000, Mr. Laboureau said.
“I think it is a work that has a very high potential of increasing in value,” he said.
This is the first time “Kissing Coppers” has been on view since it was painted on the side of the Prince Albert Pub in Brighton, England, in 2004.
Eight of Banksy’s works have previously sold for more than $ 500,000 at auctions—the record is $ 1.87 million for “Keep It Spotless” in 2008.
“There is an increasing volume of collectors now who have been buying street art. It’s very topical art, it’s art that talks to everybody and it’s part of the world we live in,” said Mr. Laboureau.