Banksy's 'Devolved Parliament' Depicting MPs As Chimps Sells For Record £9m

The Bristol street artist's cheeky painting sold for well over the guide price at auction.

A Banksy artwork depicting MPs in the House of Commons as chimpanzees has been sold for almost £9.9m, 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 on Thursday and after 13 minutes of bidding, sold for £9,879,500. It had a guide price of between £1.5-2m.

That comfortably beats the previous auction record for a Banksy - the US $1.9m (£1.54m) paid for Keep It Spotless, which was sold at Sotheby’s in New York.

In a statement after the record sale, Sotheby’s said: “More than 10 determined bidders competed for the work over the course of a 13-minute battle, quintupling the pre-sale high estimate.”

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.

Banksy's Devolved Parliament had a guide price of £1.5-£2m.
Banksy's Devolved Parliament had a guide price of £1.5-£2m.
Tristan Fewings via Getty Images

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.”

Devolved Parliament was only the joint most expensive painting sold by Sotheby’s on Thursday, however.

Pyro, a 1984 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, also sold for £9,879,500.

That work last appeared at auction in Sotheby’s in 1996, when it sold for £221,000.

Thursday’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. It sold for one million US dollars.


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