Banksy: primed and all set for take-off

After a few years in the wilderness, the elusive graffiti artist Banksy was back on form last week with two highly successful auction sales. At Christie’s, a metal panel from the exterior of a sound-system lorry which Banksy had spray-painted with military helicopter images for the 1998 Glastonbury festival, trebled estimates to sell for £103,250.

It had been an image that impressed Damon Albarn, the frontman for Blur, who were performing at the festival, leading to a commission to design the cover for the band’s Think Tank album. But more importantly, it was a rare outdoor work for which Banksy had given permission to be sold. Four years ago, Banksy stopped the trade in his outdoor work because, he said, it was never meant to be sold, so this was an exception.

The next day, Arsenal striker Theo Walcott was among the young, cosmopolitan crowd at Bonhams’ urban art sale, where 18 of 19 works by Banksy were sold, mostly above estimates, for over £400,000. The biggest spender was a buyer from Canada who had flown in just for the sale. One of many new clients to Bonhams on the day, he bought several works including the top lot, Banksy’s Love is in the Air, a stencilled painting of a rioter throwing a bunch of flowers, for an above-estimate £87,650.

These sales come after a period, since late 2008, in which the Banksy market has been looking shaky, but should also be seen in the context of the preceding three years in which Banksy’s work had followed a dizzying upward spiral. The phenomenon took off after it became known that Damien Hirst was a Banksy collector, along with Christina Aguilera and Angelina Jolie.

For the complete article by Colin Gleadell please visit The Telegraph.