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.
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”.
“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.”
Banksy’s former agent and official photographer released his much-anticipated book in December 2019. “Banksy Captured” comes with plenty of previously unpublished photographs of Banksy and some amusing anecdotes from different street art adventures. It certainly is a must-read for any person interested in the early days of British street art.
Steve Lazarides is interviewed in an upcoming documentary, “Banksy and the rise of outlaw art,” to be released in February 2020. The film features, among others, street art legend and “Pictures on Walls” printer Ben Eine. Click for the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az9ttLyQe9E
By the way, Banksy’s unaltered voice at the beginning of the above-mentioned trailer is strikingly similar to the voice of the person presented as Banksy in an interview done at the Turf War exhibition in July 2003. Reporter Haig Gordon did the interview for ITV, but the footage was reported to have been forgotten in the ITV archive for 16 years until it surfaced in 2019:
This line of thought in the “Who is Banksy?” mystery is supported by some of the photographs in Lazarides’ new book, especially one on page 154 depicting Banksy consistent with the alleged Banksy in the resuscitated ITV interview. Whether this person is “one of the Banksys” or “the Banksy” will never be known. The puzzle is part of the overall artistic expression, in which we all play a role.
The T-shirts are only available for sale at an event in Bristol on 12 December. All of the proceeds go to four different homeless charities.
Banksy has collaborated with a number of NGOs during the years. One of them is, of course, the @lovewelcomes project, which among other things, made the coveted “Welcome Mat”, sold at the Gross Domestic Product.