The ArgusBrighton nightclub sells Banksy picture for £200,000 (From The Argus)

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Brighton nightclub sells Banksy picture for £200,000

A picture by a famous and elusive graffiti artist is being sold by a nightclub for about £200,000.

Guerilla artist Banksy's original work will be sold by the Ocean Rooms nightclub in Brighton.

The six metre long spray painting has formed the backdrop for the bar of the Morley Street club since 2002.

The image, called 'Laugh now', depicts a row of chimps wearing placards emblazoned, 'Laugh now, but one day we'll be in charge.' It was one of six Banksy pictures which once decorated the various rooms on both floors of the club but have since been removed.

An Ocean Rooms spokesman said: "We have various different works done by various different artists and Banksy was just one of those we commissioned.

"I'm going to miss the picture because it is an absolutely fantastic piece.

"He was a known street artist at the time but not the internationally renowned artist he is today."

The spokesman refused to say how much the club paid for the picture and would not reveal what the money from the sale would be spent on.

The picture is one of 22 works by Banksy on offer at Bonhams auction house's sale of urban art in London on February 6.

Bonhams staff believe it could rival the record £288,000 achieved at the house last year.

The "Space Girl and Bird" spray-painting went to an American private collector for 23 times its pre-sale estimate.

The Banksy collection which will be auctioned is expected to fetch about £530,000.

It includes a single image of the 'Laugh Now' chimp, which could go for £60,000, and 'Bomb Love', depicting a scantily clad girl holding a bomb to her chest, could be sold for £40,000.

Bonhams's spokeswoman Michelle Gonsalves said: "Urban artists, such as Banksy, are in high demand because they are exciting, fresh and edgy.

"At the moment they are very popular and demanding high prices."

Banksy is notoriously secretive about his identity and is believed to have a number of police warrants out for his arrest.

His real name is believed to be Robert or Robin Banks and he is thought to have come from Bristol.

Even his age is a mystery, with internet websites putting his date of birth any time between 1967 and 1975.

His artwork, which often promotes alternative political messages, was first seen in Brighton and London's East End but has since appeared around the world.

The 'Kissing policeman' was sprayed on the side of the Prince Albert pub in Trafalgar Street, Brighton, about four years ago.

Bar manager Grace Steward last year appealed to people to stop vandalising the picture after it was repeatedly targeted by yobs.

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