The artwork of elusive British artist Banksy–the art world’s elite prankster–has hit yet another stunning milestone: Banksy’s reimagining of the French Impressionist Claude Monet’s water lilies has fetched nearly $10 million at Sotheby’s auction from an unnamed Asian collector.
“Show Me The Monet” was created in 2005 based off Monet’s “The Water-Lily Pond”, but with a Banksy twist: The idyllic scene is tainted by abandoned shopping carts and a traffic cone.
Monet painted more than 250 water lilies paintings in the late 19th century, many of them displayed in museums around the world and others owned by private collectors, auctioned in recent years and sold for anywhere between $20 million and $60 million.
Just like the “proper” Monet, “Show Me The Monet” is also part of an extended series that Banksy refers to as “Crude Oil”. All of the works feature “remixes” of famous pieces.
According to Sotheby’s, while commenting on the Crude Oil series back in 2005, Banksy said that the vandalized paintings reflected life as it is now.
“The real damage done to our environment is not done by graffiti writers and drunken teenagers, but by big business… exactly the people who put gold-framed pictures of landscapes on their walls and try to tell the rest of us how to behave.”
According to the British media, the sellers of the “Show me the Monet” were two British collectors who were willing to host Banksy’s Crude Oils show back in 2005. “Willing” because he demanded 200 live rats roaming around the show. When the show closed, the couple purchased the painting for $19,000.
The painting is the second most expensive Banksy sold at auction, after the reclusive artist’s “Devolved Parliament”.
The painting, depicting UK’s MPs in the House of Commons as chimpanzees, was sold for $12.2 million in a Sotheby’s auction last October.
Back in 2002, Banksy produced another large painting of a row of forlorn chimps in aprons and the prompt: “Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge.”
The previous record for a Banksy at auction was for the 2007 painting “Keep It Spotless”, which went for $1.87 million at Sotheby’s in New York.
In 2018, his “Girl with a Balloon” painting, which sold for $1.4 million at auction, was designed to shred itself immediately after the gavel fell. The buyer, while shocked, decided to go through with the purchase despite the shredding.
Banksy also often takes on social justice and geopolitical issues.
In June, Banksy showed his support for the Black Lives Matter movement with a painting portraying a candle-lit under a United States flag.
Last December, he revealed his piece on the imposed divide between Palestinians and Israelis.
The artwork, titled “Scar of Bethlehem”, features an image of baby Jesus in his crib with Mary and Joseph looking on. Looming behind them is the concrete wall of the west bank barrier, and in place of the North Star is a huge bullet hole.