The owner of an art museum in Amsterdam who sold a prized painting of Banksy for 1.5 million pounds to avoid laying off staff during the coronavirus pandemic has recounted how her employees gathered around the canvas to give thanks.
Kim Logchies-Prins, co-founder with her husband, Lionel, of the Moco museum of modern, contemporary and street art, said she joined 20 members of the office staff in paying their respects and saying goodbye to Banksy’s Monkey Poison, following its sale. to an anonymous American buyer at an auction in New York.
A few months later, Logchies-Prins received an email from the buyer offering to loan the work to the museum for “at least a year”.
“It was just a miracle,” Logchies-Prins said.
The Moco museum, like others in the Netherlands, was forced to close its doors in March until the summer and has been at the whim of the country’s coronavirus regulations ever since. These days, you can expect around 200 visitors on a Monday compared to 2,000 before the crisis.
The Dutch government pays staff salaries, but companies still have to pay taxes even though many of them earn little or no income.
Logchies-Prins said she had no doubt that she was doing the right thing by selling the painting in July despite it being one of the artist’s much-loved “raw oils,” a series of classic paintings updated with iconic Banksy figures. The museum has about 60 permanent and part-time employees.
She said: “In April and May we thought we had to be safe. We have been open for four and a half years and we are a new museum and it takes a while to have the perfect staff, the perfect family team. And we just had it. Letting someone go felt really bad.
“And you felt the pressure with the team. They had friends who worked in hotels and other museums who were fired, so the museum was freaking out and we wanted to remove that.
“I never want to sell, I really like to build. But my husband was in awe because I really felt like no, it’s okay. It is so good. I don’t know what it was.
“We told the staff and they really appreciated it. But they really appreciated art too. So we thanked the piece for all the good years, all the memories. We all sat together in front of the painting, looking at the painting. “
Banksy 2004 Monkey Poison features one of the artist’s most common characters, the chimpanzee, spray painted over an Old Master artwork reproduced in a gold frame depicting an idyllic pastoral scene. The monkey cartoon character is drinking a can of oil while looking over the canvas.
Prior to the sale, Jean Paul Engelen of Phillips Auction House in New York, where the painting had an estimated value of $ 1,800,000 to $ 2,500,000, said: “It is a 19th century painting, obviously a found object showing how life should be, what the ideal inspiration of humanity should be. Banksy then scoffs. It makes fun of 19th century art, it makes fun of the idealistic vision of what we would be by showing us what we become, simply gas-eating monkeys. “
“We bought it a few years ago, it’s one of our good pieces,” Logchies-Prins said. “Ecru are the pieces most loved by Banksy because they are so unique. He paints over a painting he has found. That is why it is called crude, also called vandalized art.
“It’s a beautiful painting and then a monkey sits with a bottle of poison like it wants to set it on fire or something. I like almost all of their oils raw because there is always a story in them. You can see his mind working on it. And you see his true painting skills. “
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