A Banksy Painting Just Sold At Auction For $18 Million
A painting by Banksy depicting the House of Commons filled with chimpanzees has sold at auction for AU$18 million, smashing records.
'Devolved Parliament' was expected to sell for $3.6 million at most, but after a lengthy 13-minute bidding war, the artwork went for nearly five times its estimate at Sotheby's in London.
The anonymous British artist was quick to react on Instagram.
"Record price for a Banksy painting set at auction tonight," Banksy wrote. "Shame I didn't still own it."
The oil painting measures four metres wide and is said to be the artist's biggest known work on canvas.
While it might appear to envelop the chaos engulfing U.K. politics right now, the artwork was first unveiled in 2009 for the Banksy vs. Bristol Museum exhibition, titled 'Question Time' -- a full seven years before the historic Brexit referendum.
Since then, the brits have had three general elections and four prime ministers, while Brexit has been pushed back to October 31.
The painting resurfaced on March 28, the day Brexit was originally scheduled to occur. There were subtle changes, including a new name, but nothing drastic.
"I made this ten years ago," Banksy wrote at the time. "Bristol museum have just put it back on display to mark Brexit day.
“Laugh now, but one day no-one will be in charge.”
Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s European head of contemporary art, said the work was even more relevant today.
"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 and confirming Banksy as the satirical polemicist of our time," he said.
The eye-watering sale came almost a year after Banksy's infamous 'Girl with Balloon' painting sensationally self-destructed in front of buyers at the very same auction house last October.
A shredder had been installed within the frame and was remotely activated seconds after it sold for AU$2 million. It has since been renamed 'Love In The Bin'.
The 'Devolved Parliament' painting, however, is still intact... for now.
Banksy's true identity remains unknown despite decades of speculation but has become an internationally recognised and respected artist thanks to his ironic depictions of modern life.
Just last week, Banksy made headlines after opening his own retail store in an act of revenge against a greeting card company which has its eyes on his name.
The elusive street artist drew crowds in South London for the mysterious opening of his 'Gross Domestic Product' store which had a range of branded homewares are on display, including a disco ball made from police riot helmets, and a truck into which children can load wooden migrant figures.
The showroom is temporary and display only, but products are available online.