BANKSY: GIRL WITH BALLOON SELLS FOR £900,000

This is a significant record for a Banksy editioned print, outselling a purple version from the same series that made £640,500.

Increasingly, his original works are mainstays of major sales of Modern and Contemporary art, with his multiples among the best-selling elements of the modern prints market.

The latest flagship auction series in London was topped by a Banksy – the oil on canvas Game Changer depicting a boy discarding his action toys in favour of a figure of an NHS nurse. It was painted last year as a gift to the University Hospital Southampton and, to much publicity, was being sold to support the NHS and staff.

It was estimated at £2.5m-3.5m at Christie’s evening sale on March 23 but knocked down at £14.4m, a near doubling of the artist’s record. How much the ‘charity’ factor counted is difficult to judge: the previous high was the 2009 political satire Devolved Parliament sold at Sotheby’s in 2019 for £8.5m.

Bullish Banksy bidding continued elsewhere last week.

Sotheby’s cross-category sale on March 25 offered a spray paint and emulsion on canvas which was the original concept for Banksy’s Barely Legal Poster (After Demi Moore) from 2006. Estimated at £2m-3m, it sold at £2.2m.

The auction also included a signed screenprint of Girl with Balloon from 2004, one of 88 artist’s proofs created in different colour variants (this one with a gold balloon).

Estimated at £400,000- 600,000, it took £900,000 – a significant record for a Banksy editioned print, outselling a purple version from the same series that made £640,500 at a Christie’s online sale in September. For the vendor who acquired it in 2015, this latest jump in Banksy print prices will represent a massive return and underline why investors are flocking to these works.

The top lot of the sale overall was Edvard Munch’s (1863- 1944) Embrace on the Beach, part of The Linde Frieze that was painted for a children’s nursery in 1904. It had previously sold at Sotheby’s for £5.5m in February 2006 but expectations were higher this time round. Estimated at £9m-12m, it sold to an Asian collector at £14m.

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