Kiwi collector buys Banksy print for record price

The iconic military-themed Banksy screen print went for a record $126,000 at auction in Auckland last night. Image / Supplied
The iconic military-themed Banksy screen print went for a record $126,000 at auction in Auckland last night. Image / Supplied
A Banksy artwork was sold last night at an Auckland auction, fetching a record $126,000 - twice what it was predicted to reach.

The work, Have A Nice Day, was expected to fetch $60,000 at a sale of collectable art at the International Art Centre, in Parnell.

To the auction house's delight, a bout of spirited bidding saw the buyer, an unidentified New Zealander, shell out $126,000 for the military-themed work which was created nearly 20 years ago.

The sale price was the most ever paid for a print of Have A Nice Day, of which there was a limited issue of authentic copies.

While better known for his street art around London, the screen print is one of a limited edition of 500, and one of the first Banksy pieces released to the public in 2003.

It was accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Pest Control, the company set up by Banksy to sell and authenticate his work.

The mysterious artist has never been publicly identified but has established a global reputation and following and is one of the world's most sought-after contemporary artists.

International Art Centre director Richard Thomson said inquiries about Have A Nice Day had come from around the world.

He confirmed it went to an unidentified New Zealand buyer.

The record price cemented the anonymous artist's status as a global art superstar.

"The interest in Banksy is phenomenal. He has a fundamental dislike of militarism and modern colonialism and although it was created nearly 20 years ago, Have A Nice Day is a reflection of some of the world's protest hot spots, particularly America, where authorities are taking often forceful and violent action to subdue unrest," he said.

Have A Nice Day features 27 military police or riot police, all dressed in black riot gear and standing on either side of a tank. Each is wearing a yellow smiley face, which Banksy often uses to portray figures that use fear as a means of control. At the bottom of the print is the message: Have A Nice Day.

It is the third time the International Art Centre has achieved a record price for Banksy works this year following sales in August and June

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