Published: Fri, October 04, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Banksy painting depicting primates in British Parliament fetches $12.2 million at auction

Banksy painting depicting primates in British Parliament fetches $12.2 million at auction

A Banksy artwork depicting MPs in the House of Commons as chimpanzees has been sold for close to £10m, in what organisers say is a record for the artist.

The painting, entitled "Devolved Parliament", sold for nearly nine times its previous price after a 13-minute bidding war, Sotheby's auction house announced in a tweet.

Expected to fetch between £1.5m and £2m, it sold for almost five times its estimate at Sotheby's in London.

Offers on the lot surpassed the two million mark within seconds as bidders attempted to get their hands on the political painting, which has been described as "potent and poignant, bold and brash".

"Devolved Parliament" was previously on display at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery on March 29, the original day the United Kingdom was meant to leave the European Union, before the deadline was pushed back to the current scheduled leave date of October 31.

It went back on show in Bristol Museum earlier this year, not only to mark the 10 year anniversary of that retrospective, but also to coincide with the first Brexit deadline on March 29.

Devolved Parliament is the artist's biggest known work on canvas. I made this 10 years ago. "Laugh now, but one day no-one will be in charge".

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Banksy's Laugh Now was created in 2002.

Alex Branczik, from Sotheby's, said Banksy "confronted the burning issues of the day".

During the bidding, which lasted 13 minutes, the auctioneer said that "history was being made", and indeed it was: the painting sold for a hammer price of £8.5 million, to which fees are added giving a final price of £9,879,500.

Banksy reacted on Instagram, saying it was a "record price for a Banksy painting" and "shame I didn't still own it".

Banksy, the famously anonymous United Kingdom street artist who loves rats and paper shredders and definitely is not in Massive Attack, is now responsible for making a presumably already-rich person even wealthier than before, thanks to the sale of a painting of apes he did that has sold for a staggering price tag of just over AUD$18 million. "A greeting cards company are trying to seize legal custody of the name Banksy from the artist, who has been advised the best way to prevent this is to sell his own range of branded merchandise".

Steve Lazarides, Banksy's former agent, said in a phone interview that the buyer of Devolved Parliament must have seen more than monetary value in the painting.

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