Rude jokes that will fetch thousands at auction

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The Independent Online

Some may dismiss it as an obscene visual pun, but for the graffiti artist Banksy, his latest work featuring a classically dressed painter poised with his brushes before an easel in the midst of artistic endeavour, is a self-referential poke at himself.

The untitled work of the artist immersed in self-absorbed artistic creation is Banksy's most recent piece, and it is set to be auctioned in London today for an estimated £50,000.

Other works on sale at London's Lazarides Soho House will include Damien Hirst's latest creations, such as The Regent, an oil painting featuring a glimmering jewel at its centre, as well as classic works from Andy Warhol's 1975 Ladies and Gentlemen series and the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Jonathan Yeo's controversial portrait of President George Bush, made up of a collage of images cut out from pornographic magazines, also features in the sale.

Another Banksy image, also focusing on the role of the street artist and featuring a rat in dungarees with a tin of paint and a roller after apparently pasting graffiti on a wall, is expected to sell for around £80,000.

A spokeswoman for Banksy said both works could be construed as "self-deprecating works". They will be sold alongside a more political Banksy image of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz being frisked by security guards while her ruby shoes are scanned, a reference to heightened security measures at British airports.

Work by the Bristol-born artist, whose real name is not known, has rocketed in price in the past year after he gained a following among Hollywood celebrity collectors. A picture of pensioners bowling with bombs sold at Sotheby's for £102,000 in February, breaking previous records. The following day, a further three Banksy works reached huge prices, far exceeding estimates. Ballerina With Action Man Parts reached £96,000 while Glory sold for £72,000 and Untitled (2004) sold for £33,600. To coincide with the sale, Banksy updated his website with a new image of an auction house scene with people bidding on a picture that carried the message I Can't Believe You Morons Actually Buy This Shit.