The 13-foot-long 2009 painting called “Devolved Parliament” was put on auction this week at Sotheby’s in London. It depicts chimpanzees as members of the British Parliament. It fetched for over $12 million, surpassing the estimated price tag range of $1.8 to $2.4 million by five times.
Banksy, whose identity has never been revealed, took to his official Instagram page to denounce the sale of his work. The artist does not profit from the pieces he does unless commissioned.
In the Instagram post, which he captioned, “Record price for a Banksy painting set at auction tonight. Shame I didn’t still own it,” the artist quoted critic Robert Hughes about how much art costs.
“The price of a work of art is now part of its function, its new job is to sit on the wall and get more expensive. Instead of being the common property of humankind the way a book is, art becomes the particular property of someone who can afford it,” the post said.
The painting went on display during a tumultuous time in British politics as the ongoing Brexit negotiations have stalled. The mysterious street artist has been openly against Brexit. In 2017, he created a mural in the port city of Dover featuring the European flag with one of the stars being chiseled out.
The sale of “Devolved Parliament” comes a year after Banksy's infamous stunt in which he shredded the notorious “Girl with Balloon” painting after it sold at auction.