Sale of Banksy’s ‘chimp’ paint­ing for $12.1m cat­a­pults him into big league

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Trends - Scott Rey­burn

Lon­don: This time it was the bid­ding that made peo­ple gasp. Banksy, the world’s most fa­mous street artist, joined the ranks of the world’s most ex­pen­sive artists on Thurs­day night when his 2009 satir­i­cal paint­ing, “De­volved Par­lia­ment,” sold for about $12.1 mil­lion at Sotheby’s, set­ting an auc­tion high for his work.

“This is like the mo­ment Basquiat made it into the Soho gal­leries in the 1980s,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of con­tem­po­rary art in Europe. “I’ve re­alised he’s a se­ri­ous artist, but he has such a broad pop­u­lar base,” he added.

“De­volved Par­lia­ment,” show­ing the de­bat­ing cham­ber of Bri­tain’s House of Com­mons packed with earnest-look­ing chimps, was be­ing auc­tioned just four weeks be­fore a Brexit-trau­ma­tised Bri­tain is due to leave the Euro­pean Union. Signed and dated 2009, the paint­ing had been es­ti­mated to sell for be­tween $1.9 mil­lion to $2.5 mil­lion.

Acoris Andipa, a dealer who spe­cialises in Banksy, called the paint­ing “an im­por­tant piece”, say­ing it was the most valu­able work ex­e­cuted solely by Banksy to have so far ap­peared at auc­tion. “It’s just so top­i­cal,” Andipa added.

“The price was fi­nal recog­ni­tion of how im­por­tant an artist he is,” said Mike Snelle of artist duo the Con­nor Brothers. Sharp-eyed Banksy en­thu­si­asts no­ticed the sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween the image seen in 2009 and that ex­hib­ited in 2019. The over­head lamps in the House had been turned off in the later ver­sion, and a ba­nana held by a chimp in the fore­ground was turned down­ward, rather than up.

But for some in Sotheby’s packed salesroom, the re­sult was an an­ti­cli­max. They had been hop­ing to wit­ness a stunt as spec­tac­u­lar as the Banksy “shred­ding in­ci­dent” last Oc­to­ber. On this oc­ca­sion, Banksy had al­ready done his mon­key busi­ness.

AFP

Fa­mous street artist Banksy’s satir­i­cal paint­ing ‘De­volved Par­lia­ment’

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