Sotheby’s and Christie’s go head to head with simultaneous Banksy auctions

Sotheby’s and Christie’s go head to head with simultaneous Banksy auctions
Banksy, 'Donuts Strawberries,' 2009 to be a part of Sotheby's Banksy auction. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Two unrelated Banksy auctions are scheduled to run simultaneously at Sotheby’s and Christie’s bringing some of the artist’s best-known works to the auction block.

As the gavel fell at a Sotheby’s auction in London last October announcing the £1 million sale of Banksy’s Girl with a Balloon, the reclusive artist shocked the art world as he made the artwork shred itself. The artwork was subsequently renamed Love is in the Bin and the buyer who’d anticipated a technically different artwork went through with the sale. Later, in December, a stencil tongue-in-cheek mural appeared on the side of a garage in the Welsh town of Port Talbot. Season’s Greetings promptly attracted hundreds of thousands of tourists and the artwork has been the centre of a bit of controversy ever since. Finally, the artist headed to Venice during the opening of this year’s Venice Biennale; however, he wasn’t on the guest list. Instead, he set up shop on a Venetian street – without permission – showing off a series of works commenting on the state of affairs in Venice before being told to move.

Thus, it goes without saying that the artist has had a big year. Now, Sotheby’s and Christie’s are both hoping to profit off the momentum of the elusive street artist. Come September, both of the auction houses will bring a number of works by Banksy to the auction block. Promoting their respective auctions as a chance for enthusiasts to get their own piece of the artist with perhaps an extra check for self-destruction devices ahead of the auctions.

Banksy, Girl with Balloon (Gold). Courtesy of Christie’s Images LTD. 2019.


On September 6th, Sotheby’s will kick off ‘Banksy/Online,’ which will be a two-week sale and the first of the Banksy auctions. ‘Over the last couple of years, we have seen Banksy’s print market go from strength to strength in its own right,’ said Kirsteen Davidson of Sotheby’s prints department, who also confirmed the sale was in the work far before Love is in the Bin made its debut. ‘It therefore seemed like a natural progression for us to harness this strength, and worldwide interest in Banksy, and present a sale solely of his works.’ Though their entire lineup isn’t finalized, yet, prints by Banksy will include: Girl With Balloon (estimated at £60,000-80,000), Welcome to Hell (£18,000-22,000), and Pulp Fiction (£12,000-18,000).

Just a few days later, Christie’s will commence their rival edition of the Banksy auctions called ‘Banksy: I can’t believe you Morons actually buy this sh*t,’ slyly playing off the title of one of Banksy’s images. Beginning September 11th, Choose your weapon (estimated to bring in £30,000-50,000), Stop and Search ($20,000-30,000), and CND Soldiers (£15,000-25,000 will head to the auction block. The lot that is bound to set the stage is a rare artist’s proof of Girl With Balloon. The artist’s proof of the artwork that shocked spectators is the first to have been offered at auction, according to James Baskerville, head of prints and multiples at Christie’s, and has a pre-sale estimate of £150,000 to £250,000.

‘Banksy’s prints are an opportunity to become a part of something bigger,’ said Davidson of the upcoming sales. ‘Street art is in the public forum, but prints provide a way for people who love his work to bring it home with them. Some people will pay more for the signature, whereas others just want to own a piece of Banksy’s work.’