Show Me The Monet was bought by a telephone bidder, bidding with Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia. Bidding throughout the lot was slow and steady until the end, as the bids climbed well above the presale estimate of £3,000,000-£5,000,000. Our co-founder Joe Syer commented this evening:
“This record price for Show me the Monet solidifies the incredible year that the Banksy market has enjoyed. Banksy has proven to be one of the most resilient assets with prices up 83% since the beginning of the year. We’re experiencing unprecedented demand from our investors in 2020 with new and growing interest internationally, but particularly from the Asian market.”
With the natural world more damaged than ever, the sale of Show Me The Monet is a well-timed critique of how consumer society is contributing to environmental issues.
“Here Banksy shines a light on society’s disregard for the environment in favour of the wasteful excesses of consumerism,” says Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s European Head of Contemporary Art. “Recent years have seen seminal Banksys come to auction, but this is one of his strongest, and most iconic, to appear yet.”
But as Banksy stated in the run-up to his Crude Oils exhibition, “The real damage to our environment is not done by graffiti writers and drunken teenagers, but by… exactly the people who put gold-framed pictures of landscapes on their walls and try to tell the rest of us how to behave”. Given that Sotheby’s has flown Show Me The Monet between London, New York, Hong Kong and back in the space of a month for their viewings, the artist is not wrong.
In October 2005, Banksy briefly moved his art out of the streets and into a disused shop in Westbourne Grove, London, to hold his first conventional gallery exhibition Crude Oils: A Gallery of Re-mixed Masterpieces, Vandalism and Vermin. He filled the small space with 22 reworked Old Master, modern and post-war paintings – all given a dark twist for the 21st century – along with 164 live rats to set the mood.
Among the “remixed” masterpieces were Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers as a dead bouquet, Andy Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe updated with supermodel Kate Moss, and Claude Monet’s famous waterlily pond littered with two supermarket trollies and a traffic cone.
15 years after the Crude Oils exhibition, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in October 2020 was the first time Show Me The Monet came to auction. The painting was supposedly purchased from Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s then dealer, in 2005, and has remained in a ‘distinguished private collection’ ever since, until it was sold in 2020.
Devolved Parliament, Banksy’s scathing satire of the House of Commons run by chimpanzees, more than quadrupled its £1.5–2 million estimate when it was offered at Sotheby’s Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 3 October 2019.
At 4.2m (13’8″) wide, Devolved Parliament offered collectors the chance to own the artist’s largest known work on canvas. Banksy painted the piece in 2009 for his wildly popular takeover of Bristol Museum, Banksy vs Bristol Museum, and it was later sold to a private owner. Its sale could not have been better timed: Britain was due to leave the European Union at the end of October and each new, rejected withdrawal deal made the government look more incompetent. Devolved Parliament perfectly reflected the public’s exasperation towards Brexit and politics.
Show Me The Monet, measuring 1.4m x 1.4m, is neither as large nor as topical. But the market is on its side. Prices for Banksy’s artworks have exploded since 2020. An edition of Girl with Balloon – Colour AP (Purple) more than doubled its high estimate in September 2020 and set a new auction record for a Banksy print.