A piece of street art depicting two British, male police officers kissing sold in Miami for $575,000 to an anonymous buyer.
“Kissing Coppers” was created by the anonymous street artist, Banksy, in is considered one of his most famous pieces. It changed hands several times before arriving at the Fine Art Auctions Miami (FAAM) at LMNT gallery.
“Banksy is one of the most important street artists today,” Sebastien Laboureau, a street art expert and CEO of MoonStar Fine Arts Advisors.
FAAM introduced a small selection of street art at its 2013 auction, then this year turned it into an event of its own, the Street Art Exhibition. The most highly anticipated piece of art at the auction was the controversial “Kissing Coppers,” a true show of the changing attitude towards LGBT relationships — outside of the gallery, an ad featured the piece covering the entire side of the wall facing the street.
Since the piece was created, gay marriage has become much more acceptable and legalized in many countries throughout Europe and in the U.S. it’s now legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
“[Back then], no one was talking about gay marriage, gay relationships...this kiss means a lot,” Laboureau said of the embracing police officers in the piece. “That is the beauty of art, to really show a message.”
Banksy is an elusive, anonymous street artist who strikes in random cities, using his stencil and spray paint work to surprise residents with his satirical pieces. “Kissing Coppers” was created on the side of the Prince Albert Pub in Brighton, England in 2005. The 89x65x3.5 inches piece was carefully removed from the wall years later and arrived in the United States in 2011.
Other pieces that went up for auction came from artists around the world, including Bambi, nicknamed the female Banksy, as well as pieces created by those Laboureau described as the grandfathers of street art: Speedy Graphito, Kenny Scharf, renowned gay artist Keith Haring, and more. Their pieces cover all kinds of media, from walls and car doors to canvas.
With the burgeoning art community of Wynwood, just north of downtown Miami, the Magic City is drawing international attention to its own street art. Locals Diana Contreras, KAZILLA, HOX, ABSTRK and others worked on their own pieces on giant canvases outside. A portion of their proceeds are going to the Arts and Business Council of Miami, as well as a portion of “Make Tea, Not War” by Bambi.
“Miami is becoming more and more of a street art Mecca,” Laboureau said.