Group of Banksy artworks sell for nearly $1 million at Auckland auction

The event director at last night's Banksy art auction in Auckland reckons it may have been one of the greatest auctions ever held in New Zealand.

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There were eight prints by the elusive British street artist up for bidding, of which two were hand-signed. Source: Breakfast

The auction of Important and Rare Art at the International Art Centre in Parnel pulled in almost $1 million in sales.

There were eight Banksy prints at the auction, of which two were hand signed by the elusive British street artist.

The winner of the night being one of Banksy's most sought after prints - Love Is In The Air - sold for $309,000 to a Kiwi buyer.

The piece, which was expected to bring between $150,000 and $250,000, is now the most expensive Banksy work to be sold in New Zealand.

Love Is In The Air shows a protestor wearing a baseball cap and a bandana throwing a bunch of flowers as a universal symbol of peace and love, rather than a molotov cocktail or grenade. It first appeared in 2003 as stencilled graffiti in Jerusalem soon after the construction of the West Bank wall separating Palestine from Israel.

“The Banksy protestor has become the poster boy of the peace movement and has been reproduced on posters, tee-shirts, phone covers and other merchandise material all around the world," International Art Centre director Richard Thomson said of the piece.

“Banksy is a modern-art phenomenon. There has been nothing quite like him and his message resonates like no other artist or contemporary critic.”

Also at the auction, Banksy's Laugh Now sold for $157,000 after a bidding war from 36 bidders, including many outside New Zealand.

Jack and Jill – Police Kids was expected to bring up to $75,000 but it instead went for $117,500.

Monkey Queen more than doubled predictions, going for $105,000 after it was expected to bring up to $40,000.

However, iconic piece Soup Can, which was sent from Australia by its Sydney owner for the sale, sold for $87,800 - below its predicted price of up to $100,000.