Banksy’s Kissing Cops Fetch US$575K at Auction
Two recent auction results confirm that the Banksy market is still well established — for now.
Elusive street artist Banksy could well have remained a bubble years phenomenon: a serial prankster whose work sold well as long as money was available to burn. Yet two recent auction results confirm that despite a 19% dip since 2007 (see graph below), the Banksy market is normalizing after a pre-crash spike and subsequent dip (although its performance remains below average in comparison with other market indices).
Reuters reported that Kissing Coppers, his iconic picture of two kissing “British Bobbies,” sold at Fine Art Auctions Miami on Tuesday for $575,000, at the lower end of its estimate. Last week in London, Banksy’s sculpture Happy Shopper (2009) fetched £506,500 ($831,691) at Phillips’ Contemporary Art Evening Sale, more than twice its low estimate. According to artnet’s price database, this was the third most expensive Banksy work ever sold at auction (the current record is for his 2007 Keep it Spotless painting, which shows a maid pulling up a Damien Hirst-like spot painting like a curtain).
Kissing Coppers originally appeared in 2005 on the outside wall of the Prince Albert pub in Brighton, England, where it was deemed controversial. The stencilled work was transferred to canvas by a specialist art conservator in 2008, and replaced by a replica covered with Perspex to protect it against homophobic attacks.
Pub owner Chris Steward put the work on sale through New York’s Keszler Gallery in 2011. “It is very difficult to just keep the pub going, so a little break from that would be very welcome,” Steward told the Guardian’s Alexandra Topping at the time.
Keszler wasn’t behind the latest consignment, though. The artwork was offered by a private collector alongside two other pieces, Bandaged Heart Balloon and Crazy Horse Car Door. But these did not reach their asking price — perhaps revealing some cracks in an until-now relatively stable market.
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