Banksy, the British graffiti artist known as much for his scathing graffiti as for his anonymity, has become an auction house favorite as the art world experiences a sales slump due to the pandemic. Eight of the ten most sought-after works by the artist have collected 43.7 million euros in international auctions, as of 2020.
The last work sold is Game Changer, auctioned last week at Christie’s in London for 16.7 million pounds (19.4 million euros), which became the most sought-after in the British. Beatriz Ordovás, head of the Contemporary Art Area at Christie’s, explains to EL PAÍS in an email that “Banksy is an artist capable of measuring the pulse of national sentiment and capable of connecting with people through his paintings.” Hence, this expert does not doubt that her market will continue to grow: “The buyers who have bid are traditional collectors and most have been following her work for a long time.”
Olivia Thornton, Ordovás’ counterpart at the Phillips auction house, also believes that Banksy has not reached its ceiling and that its market “has become enormously global in the last 10 years” to become universal and intergenerational.
These are his best-selling works:
Game Changer: 19.4 million euros (March 2021)
The artist gave this work to the General Hospital of Southampton (southern England) in May last year as a gift to the health workers for the work of the first wave of the pandemic. The director of the contemporary art area at Christie’s recalls that the 19.4 million euros raised were donated to the UK National Health Service.
Devolved Parliament: € 11 million (October 2019)
A herd of 150 apes congregate in the iconic green seats of the House of Commons of the British Parliament in this 4.2 meter wide and 2.5 meter high oil painting, sold in October 2019 for more than 9.8 million pounds (11 million euros). The auction house Sotheby’s had planned to raise between 1.6 and 2.2 million euros.
Show Me The Monet: 8.7 million euros (October 2020)
The artist’s reinterpretation of Water lilies and bridge Japanese by French impressionist Claude Monet, it was auctioned for 7.5 million pounds (8.7 million euros) in October 2020. Sotheby’s planned to sell the work for between 3.4 and 5.7 million euros.
Forgive Us Our Trespassing: 6.9 million euros (October 2020)
A hooded figure in a sweatshirt kneels before a wall covered in graffiti in imitation of the stained glass windows and rose window of a cathedral. The name of this painting, with dimensions of 6.5 meters high by 4.2 wide, plays on the double meaning of the word Trespassing: It is a line from the Our Father (“Forgive us our offenses”), but in Anglo-Saxon legal terminology it defines the trespassing of property. Sotheby’s auctioned it in October last year in Hong Kong for HK $ 62.1 million (€ 6.9 million), more than double the maximum figure waiting for the house.
Mediterranean Sea View: 2.4 million euros (July 2020)
These three landscapes of the Mediterranean coast full of life jackets were sold in July 2020 for 2.4 million euros, which Banksy donated to a children’s hospital in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Before that, the triptych decorated the main hall of the Walled-Off Hotel (Walled Hotel), a 10-room accommodation established by the artist with a panoramic view of the wall that separates Israel from Palestine.
Sorry The Lifestyle You Ordered Is Currently Out of Stock: 1.9 million euros (October 2020)
This is one of Banksy’s two collaborations with Damien Hirst, a British artist known for his colored dots on white canvases and his animals on formaldehyde. The work shows one of Hirst’s polychrome sequences destroyed by graffiti with the message “Excuse me, the life you asked for is not available at the moment.” It was sold in October of last year in New York for 2.3 million dollars (1.9 million euros).
Monkey Poison: 1.6 million euros (July 2020)
This work shows a chimpanzee consuming what appears to be a can of gasoline. It was sold in July 2020 in New York by the Phillips auction house. The buyer paid two million dollars (1.7 million euros).
Girl with Balloon & Morons in Sepia: 1.4 million euros (October 2020)
The irony of being the most recognized anti-establishment artist with pieces that sell for millions at auction houses is not something that Banksy missed. On the one hand, there is the famous Girl with Balloon (Girl with balloon) and on the reverse is Morons (Idiots), featuring an art auction with the message “I can’t believe you real idiots buy this shit.” There are only eight of these prints that can be fully appreciated when viewed against the light. One was auctioned in London for 1.2 million pounds (1.4 million euros) in October 2020.
Vote to Love: 1.3 million euros (February 2020)
A heart-shaped balloon transforms a banner of the Independence Party of the United Kingdom, calling to vote for the country’s exit from the European Union, for an opposite message. This piece, dated 2018, was sold by Sotheby’s for 1.1 million pounds (1.3 million euros).
Keep It Spotless: 1.2 million euros (October 2008)
This collaboration between Banksy and Damien Hirst was sold in 2008 at Sotheby’s in New York for $ 1.8 million (1.3 million euros). For a long time it was his most expensive piece, until in 2019 he surpassed it Devolved Parliament, and then many more.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.