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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 09:50 GMT
Record price for Banksy bomb art
The artwork is typical of Banksy's anti-war stance

A picture of pensioners bowling with bombs by graffiti artist Banksy has sold in London for 102,000, breaking a record for his work.

Bombing Middle England, which is made from acrylic and spray-paint on canvas, reached double its highest estimated price of 50,000 at Sotheby's.

The artist's Balloon Girl also sold for 37,200, while another piece called Bomb Hugger fetched 31,200.

But a rare signed artwork, Precision Bomber, failed to sell.

'Sensational result'

The previous highest price paid for one of the artist's distinctive spray paintings was 62,400 in October 2006, when the image of a couple embracing clad in deep sea diving gear - which was used for the cover of Blur's Think Tank album - went for 10 times its estimated value at Bonhams.

"It's a sensational result," said Elli Varnavides, head of the impressionist, modern and contemporary art department at Sotheby's Olympia branch. "It's a record for any Banksy sold at international auction."

Another sale at Sotheby's New Bond Street auction house raised 45.7m on Wednesday evening.

Sotheby's said the total was a record for a contemporary art sale in Europe.

The highest priced lot was White Canoe by British artist Peter Doig, which was bought by an anonymous bidder for 5.7m, a record for the artist.

Other sales included Gerard Richter's Abstraktes Bild which went for 2.8m and Roy Lichtenstein's Still Life with Oysters, Fish in a Bowl and Book, which fetched 2.7m.

Mystery man

Banksy, whose true identity has never officially been revealed, became famous for creating politicised stencils on the walls of public buildings.

His high-profile stunts have included painting "I want out" inside the elephant enclosure of London Zoo and a painting of a ladder on the partition wall in Israel's West Bank.

Last year, he doctored copies of Paris Hilton's album to show the singer topless with a dog's head, and placed a life-sized replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee inside the Disneyland theme park in California.

A gang of thieves tried to capitalise on his success last month by attempting to steal the door of a derelict building in Liverpool which featured one of his paintings.

One art expert said the price showed Banksy was becoming more of a household name.

"Our figures show that prices for contemporary art have risen by 12% in the last year alone," said Charles Dupplin of insurance firm Hiscox.

"It's no surprise that pieces of art like this are fetching bigger sums."

Three more Banksy paintings go on sale in Sotheby's on Thursday in one of the biggest weeks for art auctions the UK has ever seen.

On Monday, sales at Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art sale in central London made almost 95m, a new European record.

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