An exhibition of 89 Banksy originals has started in Auckland today - and the works are insured for $40 million.

The pieces are on loan from collectors across the globe and are showing at the Aotea Centre.

A spokeswoman said at today's opening that the work was insured for $40m.

The Art of Banksy has already shown in Melbourne, Amsterdam, Istanbul and Tel Aviv.


Curated by Banksy's former manager Steve Lazarides, it includes famous paintings such as Girl and Balloon and the controversial work Laugh Now - a graffiti piece that depicts a monkey with a sign hanging from his neck with the words: "Laugh now, but one day we'll be in charge".

Besides his satirical art and subversive messages, Banksy's popularity has been fuelled by the fact his identity - if indeed it is he - remains unknown. This is despite two decades of attention-grabbing art appearing on dozens of sites throughout the world, opening The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, making an Academy-Award nominated documentary and pulling off a number of "pranks" against the art establishment.

These include secretly hanging his works inside various museums around the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Britain museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Some say Banksy is Bristol painter Robin Gunningham; others attribute his work to Robert Del Naia, frontman of the band Massive Attack, and another theory says Banksy is a team of seven artists.

The urban legend goes that he adopted his unique stencil technique when, while hiding from police behind a garbage can, he noticed the graffiti imprint of the can's serial number.