By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A selection of works by elusive British graffiti artist Banksy, including the "Mariachi Player" and his "Rat" stencils, are going on sale in June, a Beverly Hills auction house said on Friday.
The "Mariachi Player," a mural of a mariachi musician playing a guitar and bearing the artist's signature, was stenciled with black aerosol paint on a wall in Mexico by the artist in 2001, Julien's Auctions said.
It said it expects the piece to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000, the highest valuation of the five works up for auction.
Banksy is the pseudonym of a graffiti artist who first emerged in Bristol, England, as part of an underground group of street artists. He hides his identity and real name, and his works are highly sought after by art collectors.
A mural entitled "Kissing Coppers" sold for $575,000 at a Miami auction earlier this year, while "Flower Girl," which was painted on the side of a Los Angeles gas station, sold for $209,000 in December.
The news of the auction comes a day after Banksy put a statement on his official website slamming a London sale of his works. The statement said Banksy has not given consent and has no involvement in the sale of seven of his urban pieces.
A spokeswoman for Julien's Auctions said all the five Banksy pieces were put up for sale by international collectors of the artist's work. Their identities are being kept private, and the spokeswoman said she was not sure if Banksy himself is aware of the sale.
Banksy's "Rat" stencils will also hit the auction block in June, including the "Anarchy Rat" mural that was spray-painted onto the walls of a military graveyard in Berlin around 2003 and 2004. The auction house estimates it would sell for between $50,000 and $70,000.
"Rapper Rat," stenciled on a piece of plywood that boarded a wall in Bristol, is expected to sell for between $30,000 and $50,000, and "Gangsta Rat," spray-painted onto a triangular yellow car wheel clamp, between $20,000 and $40,000.
The final Banksy piece up for auction is the "Bomb-Hugger," a stencil of a little girl hugging a missile with the word "NO" painted on a piece of cardboard, valued between $3,000 and $5,000. The piece is one of many that were handed out by the artist during an anti-war protest in London in February 2003.
Besides the Banksy works, more than 40 pieces are expected to go on sale in Julien's summer street art auction on June 26, including artwork by artists such as Shepard Fairey and D*Face.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)