Banksy’s SWAT Van Goes Under the Hammer in London

Don't plan on driving it around though.

Banksy SWAT Van (2006). Photo: Bonhams.

One of Banksy’s most unique artworks is going under the hammer in London. The artist’s SWAT Van (2006)—literally a former SWAT team vehicle painted by the artist—will go on sale at Bonhams on June 29 and is estimated at £200,000—300,000 ($290,000—430,000).

The van depicts a little boy about to prank a SWAT team on one side, and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz standing among heavy tagging and graffiti on the other. It also includes the kind of subtle details that have become the artist’s trademark, such as a bumper sticker asking “How’s my bombing?”

Banksy SWAT Van (2006) (detail) . Photo: Bonhams.

Banksy SWAT Van (2006) (detail) . Photo: Bonhams.

The artwork also carries the impressive provenance of having been included in Banksy’s well-publicized Barely Legal exhibition in Los Angeles 10 years ago. Because of the site-specific nature of street art and the artist’s reluctance to sanction the transferability of his work, it is was one of the few sellable artworks included in the show—and crucially includes a certificate of authenticity at the upcoming sale.

Speaking to the British daily the Guardian, Ralph Taylor, senior director of postwar and contemporary art at Bonhams said the artwork is “probably the most significant piece by the artist ever to come to auction and without doubt the most ambitious.”

Banksy SWAT Van (2006). Photo: Bonhams.

Banksy SWAT Van (2006). Photo: Bonhams.

He added, “It is a great thing. I’ve known the piece for some time so to finally get it in this context is fantastic. This is a complete one-off… it is on the complete frozen limit of unusualness.”

But does it drive? “If someone desperately wanted to I’m sure they could,” Taylor said. “It would be quite funny to have it going round the streets of London.”

Prior to the sale, the van will go on public display in the courtyard outside Bonhams central London headquarters—the first time it has gone on display since it was bought by an anonymous UK-based collector a decade ago.


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