Despite a heavy promotion from Sotheby’s and the “Contemporary Art Evening Auction”, Banksy’s “Show me the Monet” didn’t break the record from Monkey Parliament a year ago. The winning bid landed at 6.4 million GBP and according to Sotheby’s it came from Asia. The buyer has to cough up 7,551,600 GBP, including the Buyers Premium and the 4% royalty to Banksy.
The piece first appeared on social media on 14 October. After a few days of speculations whether it was done by a local street artist, Banksy confirmed the piece as his on Saturday morning.
The work depicts a girl hula-hooping with a tyre. It seems like the tyre once was part of the slaughtered bike – lock chained at the lamp post beside her.
As always, there are many interpretations to be made. One goes like this: Even if you are suffering from the economy and the pandemic you can find happiness in the little things. Find new uses for obsolete materialism. A simple but powerful advice from stoicism?
According to local residents of Lenton talking to The Guardian, the bike appeared at the scene at the same time as the artwork:
“Surinder Kaur, 42, who runs the beauty salon next to the mural, said the bike had appeared at the same time as the mural. She said within hours the council had rushed to protect the piece by placing clear plastic sheeting over it. Vandals have spray-painted over the plastic two or three times already. Everyone is very excited and many, many people are coming to see the picture,” Kaur said. “Everyone was confused about whether it was real or not real but it’s an amazing picture, it’s amazing art.”
The market for Banksy’s prints and multiples has been very dynamic the last decade, with prices increasing 25 % per year on average. Not this year. According to the website https://www.banksy-value.com, prices for Banky’s prints have gone up 136 % since the beginning of 2020. The estimate is based on real results on the auctions in London and elsewhere. Only this year, well over 250 prints have been bought and sold between collectors at the big auction houses. Of special interest are the upcoming auctions at Christie’s “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this sh*t”, and Sotheby’s “Banksy”, with several iconic prints up for sale, such as Girl with Balloon, Christ with Shopping Bags, and Love is in the Air.
Another interesting example is the print Banksquiat, from a signed edition of 300, released at the Gross Domestic Product exhibition in October 2019. It was Banky’s first regular print release since 2010. One of the Banksquiat prints was put up for sale by a collector at Tate Ward Auctions in London in August and it sold for GBP 118,750 including Buyers Premium.
How can a print by Banksy sell for GBP 100,000 when a print by Picasso goes for GBP 2,000? Possible explanations:
The trust factor: The Picasso foundation doesn’t certify Picasso’s prints, they only care about the unique pieces. Banksy’s handling service, Pest Control Office, has created an almost fake-proof certification system, which has led to a high level of trust in the secondary market.
It’s also a question of limited supply and increasing demand. Picasso was enormously prolific and produced thousands and thousands of prints in different techniques and in large editions. Banksy has only printed 50 motives. If we count the different colourways for some of these motives such as the Soup Cans, the total is somewhere around 130 different motives, all printed in small editions. The total supply of certified Banksy prints is relatively small if we compare to other established artists – if we sum all of the editions made from the 130 different motives we will arrive at aprox 10.000 signed prints and aprox 20.000 unsigned prints, which are also authentic if they have a Certificate of Authenticity.
The increasing demand comes from the fact that Banksy is perceived as the most influential artists of our times. His printed motives are among the most iconic images around and therefore highly coveted by a growing base of collectors.
There is especially one factor influencing both demand and supply: Longterm collectors have finally understood that they can buy a Banksy. According to initiated sources, almost all important art foundations are now trying to get hold of as many Banksy’s as possible. When long term collectors buy on the secondary market, they not only increase the demand, the pieces will “disappear” from the market, thus limiting supply further.
Finally, the prints have been an essential part of Banksy’s “oeuvre”. The prints are more than reproductions of a motive – they are handprinted pieces of art in their own right. The idea behind making prints is to provide affordable artwork for a broader public. The irony is that the same print Banksy sold for 50 GBP at the initial release back in the early 2000s, is now being sold for more than 50,000 GBP on the secondary market.
Photographs: Ruben Neugebauer / The Guardian
The Guardian published the exclusive story on 27 August:
The British street artist Banksy has financed a boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from north Africa, the Guardian can reveal. The vessel, named Louise Michel after a French feminist anarchist, set off in secrecy on 18 August from the Spanish seaport of Burriana, near Valencia, and is now in the central Mediterranean where on Thursday it rescued 89 people in distress, including 14 women and four children. It is now looking for a safe seaport to disembark the passengers or to transfer them to a European coastguard vessel.
Banksy’s involvement in the rescue mission goes back to September 2019 when he sent an email to Pia Klemp, the former captain of several NGO boats that have rescued thousands of people over recent years.
“Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” he wrote. “I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.”
Klemp, who initially thought it was a joke, believes she was chosen by Banksy due to her political stance. “I don’t see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist fight,” she told the Guardian.
She has made clear that Banksy’s involvement in the operations is limited to providing financial support. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists.”
With a top speed of 27 knots, the Louise Michel would be able to “hopefully outrun the so-called Libyan coastguard before they get to boats with refugees and migrants and pull them back to the detention camps in Libya”, said Klemp.
Banksy’s take on the refugee crisis went for 2,235,000 GBP including buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s “Rembrandt to Richter” auction, which was more than double the initial estimate. The selling party was ABCD Bethlehem – a Palestinian charity, after receiving the piece as a donation from Banksy. The information sheet for the lot continues: “All proceeds will go towards building a new acute stroke unit and purchasing children’s rehabilitation equipment for BASR hospital in Bethlehem.”
The triptych has been on display at Walled Off Hotel since the opening in March 2017. Due to the corona situation, the hotel remains closed until further notice. The question is whether the hotel will open again or if the sale marks the beginning of the end for the iconic hotel. Hopefully not. See previous post: The Walled Off Hotel. Palestine, March 2017.
Photographs: Banksy’s Instagram
The video of the hit was posted on Banksy’s Instagram on 14 July with the title “London Underground – undergoes deep clean”. It depicts Banksy entering an underground train carriage while dressed as a member of the cleanup crew. Banksy paints a rat sneezing, while the other rats struggle to get their masks on. At the end of the clip, we see the words “I get lockdown, but I get up again” sprayed on the doors of the carriage, referring to Chumbawamba’s hit Tubthumping from 1997.
“Transport for London confirmed on Tuesday evening that the work was removed “some days ago” due to strict anti-graffiti policy, but that it would welcome Banksy to recreate his message “in a suitable location”.
In his own words:
“What should we do with the empty plinth in the middle of Bristol?
Here’s an idea that caters for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t. We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”
As reported by The Guardian a few hours after the piece appeared at the Southampton General Hospital in the southern UK:
“Banksy left a note for hospital workers, saying: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”
After lockdown measures are lifted, the piece – which is approximately one metre square – will be put on public display. It will then be auctioned to raise money for NHS charities, a spokeswoman for Banksy confirmed.
Paula Head, the chief executive of University Hospital Southampton NHS foundation trust, said: “Here at Southampton, our hospital family has been directly impacted with the tragic loss of much loved and respected members of staff and friends. The fact that Banksy has chosen us to recognise the outstanding contribution everyone in and with the NHS is making, in unprecedented times, is a huge honour.”
“It will be really valued by everyone in the hospital as people get a moment in their busy lives to pause, reflect and appreciate this piece of art. It will no doubt also be a massive boost to morale for everyone who works and is cared for at our hospital.”