A Banksy artwork depicting MPs in the British House of Commons as chimpanzees has been sold for £9.9 million, in what organisers say is a record for the street artist. Devolved Parliament, which is four metres wide, was first unveiled as part of the Bristol artist’s exhibition Banksy vs Bristol Museum in 2009.
It went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London today and after 13 minutes of bidding, sold for £9,879,500. It had a guide price of between £1.5-2 million.
That comfortably beats the previous auction record for a Banksy, which is thought to be the $1.8m (£1.4 million) paid for Keep It Spotless, which was sold at Sotheby’s in New York.
Shortly after Devolved Parliament was sold, Banksy reacted on Instagram.
“Record price for a Banksy painting set at auction tonight,” he wrote. “Shame I didn’t still own it.” After Devolved Parliament went on display in March, Banksy wrote on Instagram: “Devolved Parliament. I made this 10 years ago.
“Bristol museum have just put it back on display to mark Brexit day.” His post ended with the quote: “Laugh now, but one day no-one will be in charge.” Chimpanzees first appeared in his work in 2002, with his piece Laugh Now.
The painting shows a row of apes wearing aprons carrying the inscription “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge”.
In 2009, Banksy said of Devolved Parliament: “You paint 100 chimpanzees and they still call you a guerrilla artist.”
Today’s auction took place almost a year after Banksy’s Girl With The Balloon partially shredded itself as the gavel came down at Sotheby’s, becoming the freshly titled Love Is In The Bin.