Monkey money: Banksy’s UK parliament chimps set auction record

Bidding for Devolved Parliament took 13 minutes, netting $12m and entering new turf for the British street artist.

Sotheby''s Frieze Week Contemporary Art Press Call
Banksy's piece was offered at Sotheby’s Frieze Week Contemporary Art Evening Auction alongside works by Basquiat, Fontana, Bourgeois, Hackney, Bacon and more [Tristan Fewings/Getty Images]

A painting depicting members of the British Parliament as chimpanzees sold Thursday for 9.88 million pounds ($12.2 million), shattering an auction record for the mischievous street artist known as Banksy.

Bidding for the 14-foot-wide painting, titled “Devolved Parliament,” lasted 13 minutes before the hammer fell at Sotheby’s evening auction of contemporary art.

The work, acquired by Sotheby’s Emma Baker for an anonymous client, had a presale estimate of 1.5 million to 2 million pounds.

The sale smashed Banksy’s previous auction record of 1.04 million pounds set last year when another of his paintings, “Girl With Balloon,” famously self-destructed.

A shredding device installed within the piece was remotely activated after the final bid had been accepted.

Thursday’s auction saw no such shenanigans – at least not yet.

Sotheby’s sold more than three dozen works for a total of 54.4 million pounds, including Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Pyro,” which matched the Banksy price of 9.88 million pounds, including fees.

A Nicole Eisenman canvas, “Close to the Edge,” fetched 639,000 pounds, a record for the American artist.

Source: Bloomberg