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Even though the title of this article alludes to a financial analysis of Banksy’s auction market, it is mostly a fun way to get introduced to some of the most iconic artworks the artist has created, and to enter into his artistic world. Each of these works are also referred to within our catalogue for Banksy Originals.
Banksy has had an established secondary market for more than 15 years, with many works of all types (originals, editions, and prints) hitting the auction block with regularity. All the major auction houses have been including Banksy’s works in their auctions for many years at this stage of the game. Banksy has been setting and subsequently breaking many auction records since 2020, and it might only be a sign of more to come given that he established a new record for himself in 2021 – crossing the $20 million threshold for the first time with his artwork dedicated to health-care workers during COVID, Game Changer.
38 artworks by Banksy sold at public auction over USD 1 million so far…
Naturally, most of these have occurred in the recent years, including 22 times in 2021 and 9 times in 2020. Said differently, 31 of the 38 times that one of Banksy’s artworks sold at public auction for more than $1 million have taken place over the past two years…
#1. Love Is In The Bin
GBP 18,852,000 / USD 25,457,340
Sotheby’s London, 14 October 2021
Undermining the establishment has always been at the heart of Banksy’s work, indeed, taking the artworld down a peg or two has particular currency in his imagery and ideology. It should therefore have come as no surprise that Banksy would mastermind perhaps the most extraordinary and elaborate feat of artistic subterfuge in recent history: the moment Girl with Balloon ‘self-destructed’ at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 5 October 2018. But of course, this wasn’t an act of destruction, it was a moment of creation, a metamorphosis that transformed Banksy’s Girl with Balloon into an entirely new work of art…
Love Is In The Bin, 2018
Spray-paint and acrylic on canvas mounted on board, framed by the artist
142x78x18 cm (60 x 30 7/8 x 7 inches)
Signed on the reverse
Hidden within the ornate gilded frame surrounding Banksy’s famous spray-painted image was a shredding mechanism that began whirring and beeping as soon as Oliver Barker hammered down the gavel on the winning GBP 1,042,000 bid: a gobsmacked, audience looked on as the canvas began to pass through the frame in neatly cut strips. By the time the work was removed from view by Sotheby’s technicians, the machinery had stopped shredding halfway through the composition; a malfunction unexpected by the artist who, on his Instagram, claimed that “it worked in rehearsals every time”.
Not knowing what was to come, Sotheby’s had placed the work at the end of one of the phone banks in a position reserved for works set to achieve high prices – a spot that played right into the artist’s hands as the event was immortalized on camera. In the days and weeks that followed Banksy’s shredded canvas became a cultural phenomenon: 30,000 news stories ensued globally, and the infamous painting became the subject of memes, political cartoons, protest placards, fridge magnets and t-shirts, to name only a few imaginative uses.
#2. Game Changer
GBP 16,758,000 / USD 23,210,000
Christie’s London, 23 March 2021
On 6 May 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a painting entitled Game Changer appeared at University Hospital Southampton. In crisp, linear detail, it showed a young boy playing with a selection of superhero dolls. This is a fine example of Banksy using his talent and platform to advance a philanthropic effort. He gifted the canvas to Southampton General Hospital, and the proceeds from the sale were used to support the wellbeing of the University Hospital’s staff and patients.
In Game Changer, Batman and Spiderman lie discarded in a bin; instead, the child clutches his new idol – a new superhero, better than the ones we see on TV and in cinema. A masked, uniformed nurse soars to the rescue, her cape fluttering and arm outstretched towards the sky. The picture was accompanied by a note that read:
‘Thanks for all you’re doing.
I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.’
#3. Sunflowers from Petrol Station
Christie’s New-York, 9 November 2021
Held for its entire life in the collection of legendary British fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, Sunflowers from Petrol Station is an icon within Banksy’s oeuvre. Witty, irreverent and subversive, it offers a wry reimagining of Vincent van Gogh’s celebrated Sunflowers, transforming the Dutch master’s radiant yellow blooms into a cluster of dried, wilted stems.
Sunflowers from Petrol Station, 2005
Oil on canvas in artist’s frame
102.6 x 87.5 cm (40 5/8 x 34 3/8 inches)
Signed ‘Banksy’, center left
Further signed and dated ‘BANKSY OCOTBER 2005’, on the stretcher
Acquired by Smith directly from the exhibition, it is an outstanding demonstration of Banksy’s virtuosity as a painter, and his acerbic flair as a satirist. Through the comedic pathos of withered petrol station flowers—a modern-day memento mori—the artist implicates the pollution of both art and nature at the hands of consumerism: neither, he warns, will last forever in its clutches. Against a backdrop of thickly-wrought impasto, dead petals accumulate around the base of the vase, which bears the artist’s name—in place of Van Gogh’s—in blue lettering.
#4. Love Is In the Air
Sotheby’s New-York, 12 May 2021
Love is in the Air is a quintessential Banksy painting. Instantly recognizable, the image has become synonymous with the artist’s indelible graphic style, wry humor and galvanizing political commentary. Banksy’s subject adopts the archetypal pose of civic unrest, preparing to hurl a brick or bomb towards an unseen foe.
Love Is In the Air, 2005
Oil and spray-paint on canvas
90×90 cm (35 3/8 x 36 3/8 inches)
One of the artist’s most cherished works on canvas, further distinguished by the inclusion of hand painted flowers in oil, Love is in the Air is a work that reminds us of the injustice and inequality that exists around us, and offers a simple message of hope. It is indisputable that this bold and declarative work helped to establish Banksy’s place in art history, cementing his reputation as a pivotal and universally heard artistic voice.
#5. Devolved Parliament
GBP 9,879,500 / USD 12,243,772
Sotheby’s London, 3 October 2019
Banksy’s largest known canvas (measuring more than 4 meters wide), Devolved Parliament, features chimpanzees sitting in place of the politicians in the House of Commons. Despite being painted in 2009, many commentators have drawn comparisons to current-day politics, and the chaos witnessed in the House of Commons over Brexit.
#6. Show Me The Monet
GBP 7,551,600 / USD 10,320,000
Sotheby’s London, 21 October 2020
Banksy repurposes an iconic image in the western canon: Claude Monet’s career-defining view of the Japanese footbridge in his water garden at Giverny. With its tongue-in-cheek pun of a title, Banksy’s painstakingly observed re-painting delivers a complex dialogue that tackles prescient issues of our time, such as the environment and the capitalist landscape of our contemporary moment, not to mention the art establishment and its ongoing identity crisis. With a sumptuously rendered orange traffic cone and a thickly textured shopping trolley disrupting the romance of Monet’s iconic Impressionist masterpiece, Banksy’s version is more twenty-first century fly-tipping spot than timeless idyll. Delivered with the ironic dead-pan immediacy of a punchline, the underlying conceptual complexity at stake here belies its humor.
#7. Forgive Us Our Trespassing
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong, 6 October 2020
Towering at seven meters in height, Banksy’s monumental Forgive Us Our Trespassing (created in 2011) is the largest known work by the anonymous street artist. The piece is a powerfully resplendent vision – unabashedly brazen while still deeply poignant.
While the widely recognizable image of the kneeling boy, accompanied by the title Forgive Us Our Trespassing, first appeared in 2010, the present 7-meter work was created in 2011. Making the piece even more interesting is the fact that more than one hundred 6th-9th grade students at the City of Angels School in Los Angeles contributed to the work. The project was aimed to encourage children to create art – showing us yet again that Banksy’s heart is always in the right place. The students assisted in tagging the stained-glass windows, Forgive Us Our Trespassing goes to the very heart of the spirit of street art and graffiti. The imagery itself, on the other hand, is a potent and moving revelation of Banksy’s conflicted feelings about being a graffiti artist, speaking to deep preoccupations and pathos that underscore his artistic production.
#8. Love Is In the Air
Sotheby’s New-York, 18 November 2021
Love Is In the Air, 2006
Oil and spray-paint on canvas
90×90 cm (35 3/8 x 36 3/8 inches)
Tagged on the turnover edge
Signed, dated ‘May 2006’ and numbered 13/15 (on the overlap)
Estimated: USD 4,000,000 – 6,000,000
#9. Trolley Hunters
Sotheby’s New-York, 18 November 2021
Featured in Barely Legal, Banksy’s seminal 2006 exhibition in Los Angeles that triggered widespread acclaim and recognition for the artist, Trolley Hunters is the perfect incarnation of Banksy’s distinctive marriage of street art, graffiti and satire. Featuring three prehistoric men in a desert, the atmosphere of Trolley Hunters is both eerie and lighthearted, its illustrative style belying the acerbic humor and depth of meaning of the painting.
Trolley Hunters, 2006
Oil and emulsion on canvas
137 x 214 cm (53 7/8 x 84 1/4 inches)
Tagged (lower right)
Further signed and dated ‘1 August 2006’ (on the overlap)
Estimated: USD 5,000,000 – 7,000,000
Holding various weapons, the three men pictured are poised to attack. The targets of their attack are, in typical Banksy fashion, trolleys – or shopping carts. The poignancy of the resulting work is twofold; firstly in its timeless critique of capitalism, and secondly in its unique and unexpected resonance today. The trolley, comic in its incongruity, nods to our consumer society’s predilection for, and reliance on, highly processed, branded packaged food products, and our inability to fend for ourselves.
#10. Subject to Availability
GBP 4,582,500 / USD 6,350,000
Christie’s London, 30 June 2021
Witty, satirical and timely, Subject to Availability is an important work from Banksy’s celebrated series of vandalized oil paintings. Hijacking an 1890 painting of Mount Rainier in Seattle by the German-American artist Albert Bierstadt, Banksy inserts an asterisk next to the dormant volcano at the center of the composition, captioning it ‘*subject to availability for a limited period only’.
#11. Sale Ends Today
Christie’s Hong-Kong, 24 May 2021
Created in 2006, Sale Ends Today plays out Banksy’s irreverent humor on an epic scale. Across a vast white canvas more than four meters wide, he uses his trademark stencil technique to depict four kneeling women, who variously pray, collapse or throw up their hands in attitudes of lament.
Wearing voluminous robes and veils, they would be at home as mourners in an Old Masterly portrayal of the deposition of Christ. Rather than the messiah, however, the object of the women’s distress is a more secular icon: a large red sign with white block capitals reading ‘SALE ENDS TODAY.’ With this wry parody of art history’s most storied subject matter, Banksy makes a biting comment on contemporary consumerism, which, he implies, rivals the zeal of religious devotion.
#12. Girl with Balloon (Diptych)
Christie’s London, 15 October 2021
GBP 3,042,500 / USD 4,168,225
Girl with Balloon (Diptych), 2005
Spray paint on canvas, in two parts
Each: 30.2 x 30.2 cm (11 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches)
Tagged ‘BANKSY’ (on the overlap)
Signed and dated ‘BANKSY 5/9/05‘ (on the stretcher)
Numbered ‘6/25’ (on the stretcher)
Christie’s London, 15 October 2021
Estimated GBP 2,500,000 – 3,500,000
#13. Original Concept For Barely Legal Poster (After Demi Moore)
GBP 2,677,000 / USD 3,670,000
Sotheby’s London, 25 March 2021
Created in 2006 and used as the poster image for the artist’s landmark LA exhibition in September that year, Original Concept for Barely Legal Poster (After Demi Moore) is Banksy at his most outrageous. Featured on advertisements pasted around the city in the days leading up to the exhibition, this image was the perfect emblem for Banksy’s breakthrough US show: Barely Legal.
#14. Laugh Now
GBP 2,435,000 / USD 3,370,000
Sotheby’s London, 29 June 2021
A majority of Banksy’s works available on the market have been executed on canvas. The artist is at his best when combining his scathing, jet-black humor with a material that reflects the aesthetic of urban life and the authenticity of his intentions. Outside of the Think Tank series on metal panels commissioned by the pop band Blur, examples of his signature stencils on metal are incredibly rare and highly sought after.
Laugh Now, 2006
Spray-paint on metal
129.5 x 91 cm (51 x 35 7/8 inches)
Signed and dated on the reverse
#15. Laugh Now Panel A
Phillips Hong Kong, 5 June 2021
Rendered in his signature monochrome stenciled style, Laugh Now Panel A is immediately recognizable as one of Banksy’s most iconic motifs, featuring a forlorn monkey with slumped shoulders wearing a sandwich board that bears the foreboding pledge, “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge.” As a culturally formidable image that conveys more than it initially may suggest, the present work masterfully encapsulates Banksy’s ability to distil complex statements into a powerful means of artistic expression.
#16. Gas Mask Boy
GBP 2,200,500 / USD 3,030,000
Phillips London, 15 April 2021
Gas Mask Boy portrays a crouched young boy wearing a respirator mask. The screen of his respirator reflects the ethereal vision of a blooming field… This work contains some of the conceptual paradoxes Banksy has become most known and recognized for, including the dichotomy between air toxicity and landscape purity, a subject of resounding relevance in today’s escalating climate crisis. Beside the young protagonist is the spray-painted outline of a flower — perhaps the boy’s attempt at painting a meadow, as reflected on his mask.
In Gas Mask Boy, the artist aims his critique at the policing of graffiti art on an elementary level, but also at the environmental damage imposed upon younger generations, which might lead them to eventually lose sight of flowering meadows and be forced into masks for sanitary protection. Particularly poignant in the present work, the gas mask has been a recurring symbol in Banksy’s iconography. Evidently a tool to disguise his likeness (Banksy has, to this day, still not been visually identified), the mask furthermore contains fringe associations that transform it into a message of subversion in itself.
#17. Mediterranean Sea View
GBP 2,235,000 / USD 2,893,578
Sotheby’s London, 28 July 2020
Comprising three found oil paintings, each traditionally framed and depicting tumultuous seascapes reminiscent of Romantic era paintings and present-day imitations, Mediterranean Sea View juxtaposes a historic fine art genre with grim contemporaneity. Banksy reworked the original compositions by adding a slew of hand-painted life jackets and buoys – a visual amendment that evokes mass death at sea. Indeed, as inferred by the work’s title, Mediterranean Sea View alludes to the lives lost at sea during the European migrant ‘crisis’ of the 2010s.
#18. Girl with Balloon
GBP 2,072,000 / USD 2,870,000
Sotheby’s London, 29 June 2020
Girl with Balloon, first realized in 2003, is without a doubt one of the most iconic images of the 21st century. Instantly recognizable, its enduring success lies within the ease with which it has been disseminated and reproduced online by a new, tech-savvy generation of art lovers. Despite this, its earliest renditions on the streets of London have been lost, and the present series of canvases from 2003 and the subsequent prints released the following year are the only concrete testimony to the work’s appeal.
Spray-paint on canvas
40.5×40.5 cm (16×16 inches)
Stenciled with the artist’s name, and numbered 24/25
#19. Sorry The Lifestyle You Ordered Is Currently Out Of Stock
Sotheby’s New-York, 28 October 2020
Sorry The Lifestyle you Ordered is Currently Out of Stock is a Damien Hirst Pharmaceutical (spot) painting which Banksy has defaced. It is the second time a Defaced Hirst appeared at auction, Keep It Spotless, featuring an iconic Banksy‘s stencil of a maid sold at auction in 2008 already for a record price.
#20. Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong, 18 June 2021
#21. Monkey Detonator
Christie’s New-York, 9 November 2021
Monkey Detonator, 2000
Spray paint on canvas
76.2 x 76.2 cm (30 x 30 inches)
Tagged ‘Banksy’ (lower right)
Estimated USD 1,200,000 – 1,800,000
#22. Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge
Christie’s New-York, 11 May 2021
Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be in Charge contains one of the most celebrated motifs used by the enigmatic British artist known as Banksy. Rising to fame in the 1990s, the much-lauded and mischievous instigator uses biting imagery—including his iconic chimpanzees—to create political and social commentary in his signature stenciled form. The present work is a prime example of Banksy’s mixture of wry wit and biting criticism on contemporary society.
Christie’s Hong-Kong, 21 May 2021
#24. Monkey Poison
Phillips New-York, 2 July 2020
Stenciled in spray paint atop an Old Master’s reproduction encased in a gilded frame, Monkey Poison, created in 2004, exemplifies the satirical overtones of Banksy’s renowned street art transferred to the realm of “high art.” Perched atop a tree branch, Banksy’s monkey intrudes upon a countryside vignette, guzzling gasoline from a carton labeled with a flammable sign.
#25. Keep It Spotless
Sotheby’s New-York, 14 February 2008
Keep It Spotless is a Damien Hirst Pharmaceutical (spot) painting which Banksy has defaced. This visual first appeared on a wall on Chalk Farm Road, London in 2006. It portrays a woman dressed as a maid who is sweeping dirt under the cover of a brick wall.
#26. Girl with Ice Cream on Palette
GBP 1,102,750 / USD 1,511,886
Bonhams London, 24 March 2021
Girl with Ice Cream on Palette from 2004 is a rare example of Banksy’s stenciling style on found material which is not only entirely fresh to the market but also depicts one of the most playful and memorable images from his oeuvre, which first appeared at his major breakthrough exhibition Turf War in 2003.
#27. Vote To Love
GBP 1,155,000 / USD 1,494,758
Sotheby’s London, 11 February 2020
#28. Flower Chucker
Hessink’s, 25 May 2021
Existing as part of a larger body of work commonly referred to as Love is in the Air or Flower Thrower, the present work was executed in 2003, shortly after Banksy had produced the image’s first iteration as a large format stenciled graffiti in Jerusalem, which itself closely followed the erection of the West Bank Wall. Today, Love is in the Air is recognized as one of Banksy’s most iconic and most sought-after artworks, existing not only in the realm of fine arts but also as the graphically powerful subject of numerous commodified goods, including posters, phone covers, t-shirts and other types of merchandise all over the world.
Flower Chucker, 2003
Spray-paint on cardboard
56 x 54.5 cm (26 3/4 x 26 5/8 inches)
Unique from a varied series
#29. Girl with Balloon
GBP 1,042,000 / USD 1,365,482
Sotheby’s London, 5 October 2018
#30. Simple Intelligence Testing
GBP 635,500 / USD 1,262,145
Sotheby’s London, 28 February 2008
Simple Intelligence Testing, made of 5 parts painted on canvases, tells the story of a chimpanzee undergoing an intelligence testing and opening safes in order to find the prize – in this case, a hand of bananas.