Banksy’s ‘Show Me the Monet’ sells for $9.8M at London auction

Banksy, Show Me the Monet, 2005, oil-on-canvas, 143.2 x 143.4cm. Photo by Michael Bowles/Getty Images for Sotheby’s

LONDON (AP) – Banksy’s playful take on a famous Impressionist painting has sold at auction for 7.6 million pounds ($9.8 million), the second-highest price ever paid for a work by the British street artist.

Show Me the Monet sold to an unidentified buyer at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday evening, surpassing its upper pre-sale estimate of 5 million pounds.

According to an October 22 report in The Art Newspaper written by Anny Shaw, the sellers are London art collectors Roland and Jane Cowan. In 2005, the Cowans had allowed the then-little-known street artist to hold an exhibition of his art in their basement. Shaw’s report goes on to explain that Banksy had met with reluctance when he tried to secure a venue for his show, titled “Crude Oils,” because he wanted 200 live rats to be allowed to run freely during the exhibition. The Cowans agreed to the unusual request, even lining the space with chew-proof galvanized steel to prevent rodent damage. As part of the deal, the Cowans were allowed to buy Show Me the Monet, for a reported 15,000 pounds ($19,648 at today’s rate of exchange).

In creating Show Me the Monet, Banksy added abandoned shopping carts and an orange traffic cone to Claude Monet’s image of water lilies in his garden at Giverny, France. Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s European head of contemporary art, said the work was one of the “strongest and most iconic” Banksy works to appear at auction.

Banksy, whose real name has never been officially confirmed, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world’s best-known artists.

Another Banksy work, Devolved Parliament, sold last year at Sotheby’s in London for 9.9 million pounds. Earlier this month, his graffiti-style piece Forgive Us Our Trespassing sold for $8.3 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.

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