Banksy's Kissing Coppers sold at US auction

Kissing Coppers Kissing Coppers is one of Banksy's most famous murals

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A Banksy mural entitled Kissing Coppers has fetched $575,000 (£345,000) at a US auction after being removed from the wall of a Brighton pub.

The life-sized black-and-white graffiti work of two policemen kissing was sold to an anonymous buyer in Miami.

One of the artist's most famous pieces, it was spray-painted on the side of the Prince Albert pub on Trafalgar Street in Brighton in 2004.

Several Banksy works removed from the walls of buildings have now been sold.

New York art dealer Stephan Keszler said he has sold 11 original Banksy pieces in the last three years and that he was satisfied with the price this one fetched.

If you happen to own a wall which Banksy has used as a canvas for one of his art works - I should imagine you are perfectly within your rights to hack it out and sell it.

The issue is more with the buyer who is complicit in owning a piece of work whose spirit and intentions were to be a site specific, social comment in the public domain and not designed for a private collection in a smart mansion or white walled modern art gallery.

You could argue that not only is the art work diminished by its removal from its context but also its intrinsic value is lost.

Two other pieces - Bandaged Heart and Crazy Horse Car Door, created by the Bristol-based artist during last year's residence in New York - failed to reach their reserve prices.

Last year London's Haringey Council backed an unsuccessful campaign to return Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) to the wall of a pound shop in Wood Green.

The "symbol of local pride" had appeared on the north London wall just before the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in May 2012, only to be sold to a US collector through Keszler for £750,000.

Earlier this month events company Sincura Group, which controversially removed another Banksy mural entitled No Ball Games in Tottenham last year, removed another piece, Girl With Balloon, from a wall in east London.

They said it would be restored and exhibited before being sold.

According to Brighton newspaper The Argus, Kissing Coppers was removed in 2011 and flown to the US. It has since been replaced by an imitation covered in Perspex.

Banksy, who uses graffiti and stencils to make comments about society, first appeared in the 1990s. Despite worldwide notoriety, his true identity remains a mystery.

Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) by Banksy Banksy's Slave Labour (Bunting Boy) was removed from a wall last February

Critics have argued the artworks should not be removed from their original locations as it takes away from the artist's original intent.

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