THE economic downturn may show no sign of ending but neither does the appetite of rich art collectors for works by the graffiti artist Banksy.The Bristol-born rebel of the art world found international fame by spraying his work on the sides of buildings. But as his reputation grew the works he committed to canvas captured the imagination of the mainstream art establishment.
Last night Bonhams, one of the oldest auction houses in the country, sold 13 of his pieces for £261,000.
Among the works snapped up by Banksy fans from across the world was Monkey Detonator, signed in stencil, which was created in 2000.
The stencil spray painting on canvas, pictured above left, had a catalogue price of between £70,000 and £90,000. But it sold for above the estimate when an anonymous collector wrote a cheque for £97,250. Another piece, Balloon Girl, pictured top left, also sold for way over its list price.
The 2005 spray painting on canvas was estimated to go for between £20,000 and £30,000. But it was perhaps an original Banksy signature and a message of "happy anniversary" that led bidders to push the eventual sale price up to £55,250.
Other artworks that sold well were Banksy's Pulp Fiction, top right, a signed screen print dated 2003, which sold for £9,375 – some £4,000 above the asking price, and CND Soldiers, right, a signed screen print dated from 2005, which fetched £13,750, £8,000 over the estimate.
The auction, entitled Urban Art, sold original artworks and limited edition signed prints from graffiti and urban artists from across the world. All 40 lots were snapped up in just an hour-and-a-half, underlining the current appetite for graffiti-based works.
Leonora Oldfield, from Bonhams, said: "The sale room was packed, bids came from within the room as well as on the phones and online from both international and UK buyers.
"Banksy was the star of the sale. All of his works sold, fetching above their estimates, showing that the appetite for Banksy continues."
Even though one of the pieces in last night's sale fetched almost £100,000 it fell far short of a record price for a Banksy work. In February 2008, a new world record for the sale of his work was set with the sale of Keep It Spotless for £953,336 at the Red Auction in New York, organised by U2 singer Bono, artist Damien Hirst and Sotheby's for HIV/Aids relief programmes in Africa.
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