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Banksy Outsells Hirst at Auction

Banksy's surge in popularity has been demonstrated by his ability to outsell Damien Hirst.

An original Banksy painting entitled Barcode Shark, which depicts a shark in the shape of a barcode, fetched £30,000 at an auction in Bloomsbury showcasing works of contemporary art.

The auction raised £200,000 in total but only £260 was from the sale of a work by Damien Hirst as a doodle by the art enfant terrible failed to reach its estimate of between £600-800.

Hirst's doodle was the result of a meeting with three drinkers in a Soho bar who confused him for Chelsea captain Dennis Wise so he produced the sketch to prove he really was the famed artist.

This is not the first time that a Banksy has been sold for a large figure at auction as earlier this month the Bristolian's 'Gangsta Rat', which he sprayed on the side of Moorfields Eye hospital in London fetched £30,000.

The graffiti appeared outside the hospital's main entrance in 2006 and was soon covered up in a bid to protect it from vandals and theft, while the money raised from the auction has gone to fund research into new treatments for eye disease.

Despite the popularity of Banksy prints, it appears that not everyone is aware of how lucrative works by the artist can be as council officials in London have painted over an original graffiti sketch.

Hackney Council removed a cartoon of the royal family waving from a balcony from the side of a block of flats in Stoke Newington without the knowledge of the property owner.

The Council had reportedly tried to contact the owner but the Land Registry possessed the incorrect contact details so workmen went ahead and painted over the artwork, which was derived from the cover of a single by the band Blur.

Alan Laing, of Hackney Council, said: "Hackney Council does not make a judgment call on whether graffiti is art or not, our task is to keep Hackney's streets clean."

Banksy's urban art may not be popular with councils but his debut film, the documentary 'Exit Through The Gift Shop' has scooped a top prize at a prestigious film awards ceremony.

He said: "I do like to think that in this world of graffiti art - which is essentially mindless, messy and stupid - we finally gave it the kind of documentary it deserves."

The annual Grierson Trust awards, which took place at the BFI Southbank, praised the film as "original and insightful".

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