A bold criticism of our consumer culture, Banksy‘s prints Sale Ends and Sale Ends V2 draw on many artistic and historical inspirations to deliver their satirical message. Here are 10 quick facts.
1. Sale Ends adopts the style of Renaissance paintings
Banksy’s print depicts four women gathered around a central red sign announcing “Sale Ends Today”. Although they have been drawn in Banksy’s classic black and white stencil style, the details in their long and flowing robes, their gestures and their expressive faces were inspired by Renaissance and Old Master religious paintings.
2. Sale Ends was accompanied by five other prints in Banksy’s Barely Legal print set
Visitors to Banksy’s Barely Legal exhibition in Los Angeles in 2016 had the chance to buy a special portfolio called Barely Legal (LA Set), which contained Sale Ends, Grannies, Applause, Festival, Trolleys and Morons. These are now among Banksy’s rarest and most sought-after prints, and are even more valuable when sold as a complete set.
3. Only 1/5th of the first edition of Sale Ends was released
Banksy worked with Los Angeles-based printers Modern Multiples to create 500 unsigned Sale Ends prints for his Barely Legal exhibition, but only 100 prints were actually offered for sale at the exhibition. The remaining 400 unsigned prints were never publicly released, increasing the rarity of the Barely Legal print set.
After Barely Legal closed, Modern Multiples were ordered to destroy the plates for the six prints so they could never be reproduced without the involvement of Banksy’s UK-based printer at the time, Pictures On Walls. Pictures On Walls would go on to release an edition of 150 signed Sale Ends prints in 2005.
4. Banksy also created a Sale Ends canvas for Barely Legal
The rare and enormous painting is an impressive 4metres wide. When it came up for auction at Christie’s Hong Kong in May 2021, it sold for over HK$47 million (£4.3 million) with fees – more than double its HK$21 million low estimate.
5. What is the meaning of Banksy’s Sale Ends?
Banksy’s Sale Ends deftly blends together high art with high street shopping, comparing society’s devout consumerism to religious passion. The figures mourn the end of the discount sales and events such as Black Friday in the same way that religious masterpieces once depicted Jesus’s followers lamenting his crucifixion.
6. Sale Ends is one of Banksy’s most biting prints against consumerism
Since gaining notoriety in the early 2000s, Banksy has never been afraid to get close to the bone. With his Barely Legal exhibition, he firmly established himself as an artist creating against consumerism and capitalism, but none of the other five prints in the Barely Legal (LA Set) offers the same direct and witty remark on consumer culture as Sale Ends. To a lesser extent, his print Festival (Destroy Capitalism) mocks the masses for buying, literally, into anti-establishment positions. His print Morons targets buyers of his art at blue-chip auction houses.
7. Sale Ends V2 was released to mark the closure of Pictures On Walls
In 2017, Banksy’s printers Pictures On Walls announced that they had “been taken over by venture anti-capitalists and [would] cease trading from 31st December.” To mark their closure, Banksy released an ironic and timely new print called Sale Ends V2, which showed two robed women and three men lamenting over a “Sale Ends Today” sign. This new edition was released using a lottery system to give everyone a fair chance of buying a Banksy print and avoid the works ending up in the hands of resellers.
8. What is the highest auction price paid for a Sales Ends or Sales Ends V2 print?
In April 2021, a signed print of Sale Ends V2 sold for £52,500 (with fees) at auction – achieving above its high estimate. It is currently the top price paid for a print in either Banksy’s Sales Ends or Sales Ends V2 series.
9. Was Banksy’s Sale Ends inspired by Andy Warhol?
Pop artist Andy Warhol grew up in a religious family and went on to explore American society’s worship of celebrities and material objects in his art. Banksy has used Warhol as an inspiration for his prints Soup Can and Kate Moss, but Sale Ends may also be subtly influenced by Warhol’s paintings like Sixty Last Suppers (based on Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper), combining religious masterpieces and contemporary issues or techniques. While Warhol referenced religion to highlight his Catholic faith, Banksy uses it to interrogate ideas of idolisation.
10. Sale Ends is one of Banksy’s many prints to include a mischievous slogan
Banksy use words to both explain and comically contrast with his images. In Sale Ends, the bright red “Sale Ends Today” sign is used to highlight the difference between high street sales and religious devotion. In Grannies, two sweet, elderly women knit jumpers with the surprising messages “Punk’s not dead” and “Thug for life. And in Morons, the professional auctioneer in a dinner jacket is selling a painting that says, “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit”.