Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Banksy's 'Devolved Parliament' of chimps sells for record £9.87m

Work shows primates in UK’s House of Commons and has drawn comparisons to recent upheaval over Brexit

Gallery assistants pose with Banksy's "Devolved Parliament". AFP
Gallery assistants pose with Banksy's "Devolved Parliament". AFP

A large Banksy painting depicting chimpanzees in the UK Parliament sold for more than £9.87 million (Dh44.3m) on Thursday, a record auction price for a work by the secretive British street artist, Sotheby's said.

Devolved Parliament, in which chimpanzees replace politicians in the House of Commons, more than comfortably surpassed its estimated price range of £1.5m to £2m.

The auctioneer declared "history being made" at one point during the sale, which was streamed live.

After bidding that lasted 13 minutes, the 2009 artwork from a private collection sold to loud applause for a hammer price of £8.5m, to which fees were added.

"Record price for a Banksy painting set at auction tonight," the artist wrote on his Instagram feed beside a post quoting art critic Robert Hughes about the value of artworks.

"Shame I didn’t still own it."

The quote by Mr Hughes was: "The price of a work of art is now part of its function. Its new job is to sit on the wall and get more expensive.

"Instead of being the common property of humankind the way a book is, art becomes the particular property of someone who can afford it."

Before Thursday's sale, the auction record for a Banksy work was more than $1.8m (Dh6.6m) for Keep it Spotless at Sotheby's in New York in 2008.

Devolved Parliament is 4 metres wide, making it Banksy's largest known canvas, Sotheby's said.

The work was painted in 2009 but many commentators drew comparisons with the brutish exchanges in the Commons over Britain’s departure from the EU.

The Bristol-born artist, who keeps his identity a secret, is known for his political or social commentary in graffiti work that has appeared in cities around the world.

Updated: October 4, 2019 10:03 AM

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