Morons is a screen print executed by Banksy in 2006, depicting an auctioneer conducting a sale to a room packed with bidders. It was first displayed at the artist’s iconic American exhibition Barely Legal, which took place in a warehouse in Los Angeles in 2006. Morons is one of six prints belonging to a rare and valuable collection referred to as the Barely Legal Print Set, which also included the works Grannies, Applause, Trolleys, Sale Ends and Festival. Morons is one of the most detailed and intricate works from the set.
Morons was originally released at the exhibition as an edition of 100 unsigned prints, printed by Modern Multiples, that sold for $500 a piece. In 2007, Banksy’s UK-based printer Pictures of Walls re-edited additional Morons prints in three different colours, with a further 500 unsigned and 150 signed prints in pure monochrome, as well as 300 signed prints on a sepia background. The original LA edition also differs from those released by Pictures of Walls, with the inclusion of a gold frame around one of the paintings portrayed within the print. Morons has also appeared on Banksy’s website following a record-breaking auction result for one of his canvases.
Depicting a crowd of art collectors gathered around an animated auctioneer, Morons has often been interpreted as a satirical take on the contemporary art market, which Banksy harshly blames for the sky-high prices that many artists, ironically including Banksy himself, are able to generate.
The whole image is based on the historical moment when Van Gogh's Sunflowers achieved a hammer price of £22,500,000 at Christie’s on 30 March 1987, setting the record price for any work of art at auction. This moment marked the beginning of colossal changes in the art market, with the emergence of the first “mega lot” auctions. The large canvas being auctioned in the present humorously work bears the words, in block capitals, “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU MORONS ACTUALLY BUY THIS SHIT”. Banksy mocks the crowd, representing art collectors in general, that are ready to bid huge sums of money in order to acquire Banksy's work, or other works by famous artists. Ironically, the Morons screen print was included in Sotheby’s 2014 selling exhibition curated by Steve Lazarides entitled Banksy: The Unauthorized Retrospective.