Banksy’s Vote To Love sold for twice its original last night at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction Evening Sale.
The artwork has an interesting history: it was originally a Vote To Leave placard that was left after the 2016 Brexit campaign, until the political Street Artist gave the placard the Banksy treatment. Banksy painted a heart-shaped balloon, covered in plasters, floating above the word ‘Leave’ making it look like ‘Love’.
Banksy entered the work in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition under a new pseudonym: Bryan S. Gaakman – an anagram of ‘Banksy anagram’. It was rejected. So Banksy then entered it again under his more recognisable pseudonym of Banksy and it was accepted.
Banksy ensured the joke continued and in the exhibition catalogue the artwork was priced at £350million, a reference to the Vote Leave bus, which claimed the NHS would gain £350million per week by leaving the EU.
Vote To Leave didn’t quite achieve £350million last night, but it did sell for £1.2million. Its guide price had been £400,000-£600,000.
This was part of a big night for British art and artists, with David Hockney’s iconic Bigger Splash selling for £23.1million. In only 2006 it had sold for £2.9million at Sotheby’s. Bridget Riley’s Drift (1963) sold for £2.3million. A Francis Bacon collage, Turning Figure (1963), sold for £7million. And a small work by Frank Auerbach, Head of JYM (1976), sold for £1.7million.