Banksy began as a freehand graffiti artist in early 1990s. He was first noticed for his graffiti art in London and Bristol. Banksy art features stencils with humorous images often with slogans. You can say that Banksy artist usually conveys messages that are anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-establishment. In any Banksy print you will find subjects like rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly. His prints have even been converted to cool wall paper. There was a time not long ago that Banksy art and canvases would sit at art galleries unsold or at best sell for a few hundred dollars. The times have changed dramatically for Banksy art, Banksy print and Banksy wall paper. Just last week at Christie’s Post War & Contemporary Art sale Banksy’s Bird with Grenade closed at $228,043 almost tripling its estimated value. His work has benefitted from the smart recovery made by the art market as a whole. There has been a series of record breaking sale in the past year or so. Some people argue that the price levels are too high to sustain and there might be significant price corrections sooner than later.
However, with so much buzz around the Banksy art we were curious enough to look around and prepare a list of the most expensive Banksy art. We hope you will find it interesting too.
1. Keep It Spotless
It is the most expensive Banksy art ever sold. Made in 2007 it was sold during a Sotheby’s Charity auction in New York in December 2008 for a record price of $1.87 million. The 81 1/4 in x 120 1/8 in canvas was originally a Damien Hirst painting which was defaced by Banksy. The image on the canvas is of Los Angeles hotel maid named Leanne who is pulling up Hirst’s piece to expose a framed window. The canvas is signed and dated on the reverse.
2. Simple Intelligence Testing
It is a five part oil on canvas work titled Simple Intelligence Testing. It moves like a story depicting a chimpanzee undergoing an intelligence test. The chimp is trying to find the bananas kept in the safe and the initiative encourages him to stack the safes one on top of the other and escape through the air vent. The work with five 36 in x 36 in canvas was made in the year 2000. It was sold for $1,265,120 in a Sotheby’s sale in London in February 2008. The fifth canvas is signed by the artist.
3. The Rude Lord
4. Vandalised Phone Box
This is perhaps the most famous of Banksy’s sculptures. The Vandalized Phone Box features a red phone box in a contorted shape apparently in pain as it is bleeding from the wound created by the strike of a pick axe. The artist has created several phone boxes in different states of distress. This particular piece was made in 2005 and installed in Soho Square, London. It was sold in a Sotheby’s sale in New York in February 2008 for $605,000.
5. Space Girl and Bird
This work was originally commissioned by Blur in 2003 for the cover artwork for their album Think Tank. The piece has been created with spray paint on steel. The image is of a small girl dressed in a Parka jacket and a deep-sea diving helmet holding a small yellow bird. The Banksy’s work had created a record when it sold for $575,813 at a Bonham’s auction in London in April 2007.
6. Queen Victoria
This work is a part of the series which must have angered the royal family. Daily Mail had objected to the art work that depicts the monarch in a lesbian clinch with a prostitute. The controversy over the theme of the series must have helped the painting find a buyer at a high price. This one is the most expensive version which was sold in October 2008 at a Sotheby’s sale in London for $478,095. This 36 in x 36 in oil on canvas was originally made in 2002.
7. Insane Clown
The artwork has been made on a large canvas measuring 99 1/4 in x 76 1/8 in. The image has been spray painted over a stencil on Hessian. The artwork was made in 2001 and had been with Lazarides Gallery, London. It fetched a significant price of $481,165 at a Phillips de Pury Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London on June 29, 2008.
8. Laugh Now
This is a stencil spray paint on painted board. This work was commissioned by the Brighton nightclub to create a mural for the Ocean Rooms. It is made in three parts measuring six meters in length and covers an entire wall. It was made in 2002 and was auctioned at Bonhams Urban Art auction in London in February 2008 for $449,349.
It is almost a life size statue made from fiber glass. Banksy seems to have made it as his tribute to Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. To add his personal touch he has added a bomb disposal jacket to it. It was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London in October 2007 for $416,742. Banksy later made couple of other versions of the same statue. The one made in 2009 was wearing a suicide bombers vest and a scarf around its face.
10. Ruined Landscape
This is a oil and spray paint on canvas. The 19 3/4 in x 23 5/8 in canvas is framed in a gilt frame. This work was contributed by Banksy to a RED charity auction held at Sotheby’s in New York in February 2008. The artwork features a traditional English landscape painting with a large stencil superimposed on it that reads ‘This is not a photo opportunity’. The artwork fetched a handsome $385,000 at Sotheby’s Red Auction in New York.
11. Pie Face
This is a very interesting concept. Banksy has altered a traditional English portrait and put pie on it. It is traditional oil on canvas of 19 3/4 in x 15 3/4 in. The artwork went under hammer at a Sotheby’s auction in London in June 2007. It must have appealed to the sense of humor of a lot of bidders as it fetched $382,140.
12. Warning Sign
The work titled Warning Sign is made of composite plastic and spray enamel has been sprayed on it. The image is obviously inspired by the terrorist attack on the twin tower in New York. The unique work with dimensions of 31 1/2 in x 31 1/2 in was acquired directly from the artist. The artwork made in 2006 was later auctioned at a Christie’s event in London in 2008 and fetched a price of $361,199.
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