Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 September 2019

Banksy vs Banksy: Christie’s and Sotheby’s go head-to-head with online auctions of the artist

Signed prints worth up to $90,000 by the anonymous street artist will go on sale in September

The newly completed work by artist Banksy entitled 'Love is in the Bin' was created when the painting 'Girl with Balloon' was passed through a shredder at Sotheby's auction house in London last year (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) 
The newly completed work by artist Banksy entitled 'Love is in the Bin' was created when the painting 'Girl with Balloon' was passed through a shredder at Sotheby's auction house in London last year (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) 

Banksy is notorious for making a statement. And last October he made perhaps his biggest statement yet when his work Girl with Balloon self-shredded the moment sold for $1.4 million (Dh5.1 million) at a Sotheby’s auction in London.

The street artist planned the whole thing, creating a device that would remotely set-off on command. Still, despite the work being part shredded, the collector kept the piece and Banksy re-authenticated the work as Love is in the Bin. The auction house claimed it as “the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction”.

The stunt not only made the work more valuable, it upped Banksy’s popularity and sparked discussions about the art market.

Considered one of the most controversial street artists in the world, Banksy has maintained his anonymity despite being active in the graffiti art scene for 20 years.

This Autumn, Sotheby’s and Christie’s are hoping to build on the buzz by holding online auctions of Banksy at the same time.

A visitor at the Lazinc Gallery in London looks at Banksy's 'Girl with Balloon' (2006). The signed print version of the artwork is included in Sotheby's first online auction dedicated to the street art. AFP
A visitor at the Lazinc Gallery in London looks at Banksy's 'Girl with Balloon' (2006). The signed print version of the artwork is included in Sotheby's first online auction dedicated to the street art. AFP

On September 6, Sotheby’s will begin their two-week sale “Banksy/Online”, its first online sale dedicated to the artist. Their selection includes a number of well-known works, including a signed Girl with Balloon (2004), unshredded this time, which is expected to be the top lot at an estimate of $72,700 (Dh267,000) and $96,900 (Dh355,900).

There’s also Welcome to Hell (2004), estimated at $21,800–$26,000 (Dh80,000-Dh95,500), featuring a common motif in Banksy’s works—the black rat. Early in his career, the artist would stencil the animal across streets in England, using it as a symbol for street art; hard to control and contain.

Meanwhile, Christie’s will open up sales for its own Banksy auction from September 11 to 24. The title is borrowed from the name of a Banksy print that illustrates a scene from a live auction—the sale of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, which sold for almost $40 million (Dh147 million) at Christie’s London in 1987.

A signed print of Choose Your Weapon (2010), which shows a hooded figure walking a dog reminiscent of Keith Haring’s work Barking Dog, is expected to fetch $36,200 (Dh132,900) and $60,400 (Dh221,850), while his more political Stop and Search (2007) is estimated at $24,100–$36,200 (Dh88,500-Dh133,000). The latter mocks a policing practice that gives police the authority to search and detain individuals that they deem suspicious. The poster shows a police officer rifling through the basket of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz as her dog Toto looks on.

The satirical mural 'Season's Greetings' (2018) was painted on a garage in the town of Port Talbot, Wales. Getty Images
The satirical mural 'Season's Greetings' (2018) was painted on a garage in the town of Port Talbot, Wales. Getty Images

Christie’s is still accepting consignments, and the final line-up has yet to be announced.

Aside from graffiti and prints, Banksy has also worked on ambitious art projects such as Dismaland (2015), a dystopian amusement or "bemusement" park set up in Somerset, and The Walled Off Hotel, a nine-room hotel constructed by the separation wall in Bethlehem, which still runs today.

Updated: August 16, 2019 12:39 PM

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