Banksy’s Parliament painting sells for record-breaking £9.9 million

Banksy’s largest ever canvas painting sold for an astonishing £9.9 million at a Sotheby’s London auction on Thursday.

Reacting to the sale on Instagram, the anonymous street artist said it was a “record price for a Banksy painting. Shame I didn’t still own it.”

Devolved Parliament’, an impressive 4-metre-long piece, depicts pondering chimpanzees as MPs in the House of commons. An anonymous collector bought the painting shortly after it was first unveiled at an exhibition in Bristol Museum in 2009.

Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s, stated that Banksy “distils society’s most complicated political situations into just one, deceptively simple image that is readily shareable in our social media age“.

Bidders fiercely battled each other for 13 minutes to win the Banksy-shaped prize, whilst the auctioneer declared “history [was] being made.” Eventually the hammer fell to a roaring applause at £9,879,500, nearly five times its pre-auction estimate.

Yesterday’s result also beat Banksy’s previous auction best by nine times. In 2008, Sotheby’s New York sold ‘Keep It Spotless’ for a $1.8 million (£1.4 million), setting a record that only now has been surpassed.

The auction took place in the same room and exactly one year after the British graffiti artist shocked the artworld with his Girl with Balloon, which self-destructed moments after its sale.

But Banksy is clearly not elated by yesterday’s result. On his Instagram, he added a quote by critic Robert Hughes about the spiralling value of artworks: “The price of a work of art is now part of its function, its new job is to sit on the wall and get more expensive.

Instead of being the common property of humankind the way a book is, art becomes the particular property of someone who can afford it.”

Although Banksy created the painting over a decade ago, it has since become even more significant with the increasing political upheaval cause by Brexit.

Earlier this year, it was lent to Bristol on the day Britain originally planned to exit from the EU and the exhibitions 10th anniversary. At the time, Banksy revealed that “I made this 10 years ago. Bristol museum have just put it back on display to mark Brexit day. Laugh now, but one day no one will be in charge.”

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