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Banksy, Devolved Parliament (2009)
Banksy, Devolved Parliament (2009)

Banksy’s painting of MPs smashes estimates, selling for nearly £10 million

‘Devolved Parliament’ sold in a 13-minute Sotheby’s auction

Last month, it was announced that Banksy’s “Devolved Parliament”, a 13-foot long painting depicting MPs as chimpanzees, was going up for auction. At the time, the high estimate of £2 million caused a stir, but after a 13-minute auction on Thursday, it sold for almost five times that price.

In the end, the gavel came down at just under £9.9 million. Sotheby’s reported applause in a subsequent tweet.

“Record price for a Banksy painting set at auction tonight,” the artist posted in the caption to an Instagram post quoting art critic Robert Hughes on the negative effects of art as capital. “Shame I didn’t still own it.”

The big question is: why did the artwork exceed estimates by so much? Well, it’s undeniable that Banksy’s been particularly active in the last couple of years, making a stab-proof vest for Stormzy, an art stall/protest at Venice Biennale, and infamously shredding an artwork after it sold for over £1 million.

Of course, there’s also the fact that this specific painting is unfortunately very timely, although it was finished and exhibited in 2009. After months upon months of Brexit deadlock and disastrous leadership decisions, it’s not difficult to envision our country’s leaders as chimps (although, tbh, the chimps look a fair bit more civilised).