Banksy chimpanzee Parliament painting breaks record with £9.9m sale

The lot is now the most expensive Bansy painting

Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Banksy oil painting that depicts politicians as chimpanzees in the House of Commons has sold for £9.9 million, and breaking the artist's world record. 

A long battle between two phone bidders at renowned auction house Sotheby’s, ended with the £8.5 million (£9.9 milllion with fees) that was more than five times the estimated price for the artwork entitled Devolved Parliament.

Auctioneer Oliver Barker said "history being made at Sotheby's" as he mediated the 13 minute sale.

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”.

The piece is four by two metres and was originally unveiled in 2009 as part of the Banksy vs Bristol Museum exhibition.

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.

When the artwork was redisplayed this spring, its Britsol-born creator wrote on Instagram: “Devolved Parliament. I made this ten years ago.

“Bristol museum have just put it back on display to mark Brexit day.”

His post ended with the quote: “Laugh now, but one day no-one will be in charge”  - a reference to an earlier work that also depicted apes.

Banksy's Laugh Now was created in 2002.

Alex Branczik, the European head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, described Banksy as a “modern-day Voltaire” in confronting the “burning issues of the day”.

On Devolved Parliament he continued: “Regardless of where you sit in the Brexit debate, there's no doubt that this work is more pertinent now than it has ever been, capturing unprecedented levels of political chaos.”

Tonight’s auction comes almost a year after Banksy’s celebrated Girl with the Balloon self-destructed as it was sold at the same auction house, swiftly being retitled as Love is in the bin.

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